He shared a little of his family story of adoption and some wonderful advice.
The decision of adoption was a “no-brainer” for my husband and me. We decided that surrogacy was too costly and complicated during the early stages. We’ve always talked about adoption as a means to help us start our family. Additionally, adoption has been a part of my family story as my paternal grandmother was an adoptee. She was placed in adoption in a time that adoptions carried a stigma and were mostly closed. As a result, we wanted to be as transparent with our children so we opted for an open adoption in both cases.
We did a TON of research both before and during the adoption process. There really is truth in the saying that the “internet is a treasure trove of knowledge”. We leveraged many sites (such as Dave Thomas Foundation, Adoption Learning Partners and Rainbow Families) as a means to get familiar with adoption, to help facilitate our expectations and connect with various resources. We were fortunate that we found a great agency (Adoption Center for Family Building) that helped us with both of our adoptions. They not only helped guide us through the home study process but they really acted as an advocate for us. This was important because we didn’t know what to expect outside of what we read. Additionally, they really acted as a support system for us which is important for both birth parents and adoptive parents.
My husband and I were looking for opportunities to support a cause that was important to us. Immediately, we both recognized that adoption has played an important and influential part in our lives. We recognized that without adoption, we probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to start a family. In turn, we wanted to join a cause that could help reaffirm to our children that they can see a positive impact in something that is so personal to them. I had been aware of the Gift of Adoption and the great things that it has accomplished. Being an adoptive family, we recognized how the financial aspect can be a barrier for some families, and it was important to us that we were able to showcase a cause that doesn’t discriminate especially based on sexual orientation. Gift of Adoption was the one organization that really “fit that bill”.
The first and most important, in my opinion, piece of advice that I would share with potential adoptive parents is to be patient. The journey through the adoption process is as individual as each child that goes through it. The process can be long, tedious and emotional. We went through the process three times (1 that was not successful and 2 that were). Each time the process was different from the previous. Secondly, it’s imperative to have a support system in place to help with all of the expected and unexpected emotional ups-and-downs. The support system shouldn’t be limited to family. It’s important to have a support system that includes friends and even work. We were both fortunate enough that we worked at places that had official adoption programs. Working at a place that understands the unique challenges with adoption only lessens the level of stress any adoptive family can expect to experience. Finally, I would say that anyone interested in going through the adoption process should be prepared to act as an educator. Many people I’ve spoken to (including experience we’ve had) don’t understand the process. In turn, they will ask questions that may seem outright insensitive. It’s important to keep in mind that 9 times out 10 their intent isn’t to be rude. They just don’t know the correct way of asking their question(s) or the correct terminology. The most common question we got was “why did the mother give up her child?”. What we quickly realized is that in most instances the person asking the question really wanted to know the circumstances the birthparents placed the child into adoption. Keep in mind….you’re not obligated to answer any questions. There have been many instances where we would kindly respond by saying “that’s something we don’t share because it’s important to keep it private to our family”.
I think it’s important that people realize that they don’t personally have to be going through the adoption process to be an advocate/supporter of adoption. I’ve come across many people who have asked me a lot of questions about our adoptions who were not familiar with the process. These are great opportunities to not only help educate them but to ask for their support. In most instances, I’ve experienced positive reactions when I say something like “These are great questions. How can we use your interest in this help others?”. You’d be surprised on the response!