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Adoption Questions from the Comment Box

It's Saturday, Veteran's Day, my grandmother's birthday (she would have been 94), and it's raining. It seems like a great day to go back to the comment box questions.

Question: Would you have waited over 20 months for your agency to facilitate a meeting with first parents or would you have done something else at some point? Asked by the wonderful, but waiting Poolsnapshot.
When we adopted Apple we waited 22 months total. We were told the wait would be two years, so we felt lucky. Our agency had a "waiting, waiting list" of a year. You told them you wanted a homestudy, and you were put on a list to begin one. Then after your homestudy was done, it was roughly a year until your letters were shown to prospective birth/first parents. We got on the first list in February of '90. That year they had more adoptions, so we were called in August to begin our homestudy. We completed our homestudy in November of 90 and we were told that it would be a year before we were shown to anyone. That went faster than projected as well. In August of 91 we were shown to a prospective birth/first mom, and she chose another family. In September we were shown twice and one of the couples looking at us were Apple's birth/first parents. We were told in October they had chosen us. We met them and hit it off. Apple was born in December of '91.

This was not the only way we pursued adoption. We also worked with another agency, who we decided was unethical, so we quit working with them. We worked with two lawyers. One who is the most famous in town, but the least ethical. A real take the baby and run kind of guy. He was our first contact with adoption and we were naive. As soon as we figured out what he was about, we left him. The other lawyer was a nice guy, but never really did anything. We had a number of "I know someone who is pregnant" from family and friends. None of them panned out. One came close but we backed out of it, because we felt the young woman didn't really want to place her child. Ironically she did. She placed through the agency we adopted Apple through. When I found out about that my stomach fell. I later met her in the grocery store and she told me I did the right thing backing out. That she had a ton to work through and really needed to think about parenting her child, and when we backed out it forced her to do that. Frankly that made me happy. But before I go patting myself on the back, I have to be honest and say I wasn't thinking of her when we said no, but ourselves. I didn't want to emotionally invest in a child and then have to give it back when she decided not to terminate her rights. It was completely selfish on our part, not alturistic.

So to finally answer your question if this is a normal wait for your agency, I would just be patient. The year Apple was born our agency placed 27 children. The following year they placed 9. So I think it helps to know the general climate of what's happening around you. When Apple was 6 months old, I called our agency to ask about being put back on the waiting, waiting list. I figured that I would have kids roughly 3 years apart that way. This is when they told me that their adoptions had slowed drastically that year and I would more likely have a 4 to 5 year wait. This is when we decided to pursue surgery and pregnancy again, and had Rory.

If there are a lot of other couples being matched while you aren't , I would talk to your social worker. If you aren't satisfied with the answers you receive, I would pursue another agency. If I were adopting again, I would rarely consider an attorney or a friend/family match. I think it's harder to get an ethical situation. The best agencies put the welfare, wants, and needs of the mother on equal footing with the potential adoptive parents. Lawyers only clients are the potential adoptive parents, so that is who they are going to advocate for, giving the adoptive families an unfair advantage over birth/first families. I think "matches" done by friends and family come from an earnest place, but often don't take into account the complexities of adoption.  I know many agencies  are guilty of the same things, but I still feel an agency is your best shot at an ethical adoption.

Our son's adoption is a kinship adoption, and frankly I would have had no idea how to handle this if we hadn't adopted Apple. The first people I called for advice are the now retired social workers who facilitated Apple's adoption.

Another adoption question-
Did you do lifebooks for your 2 kids who are adopted (or the others for that matter?) we're currently working on one for our 18 mo (we're in an open adoption, but first parents are currently not returning calls), and am struggling to put all/ some of the legal stuff in terminology for a young child that isn't too ridiculously confusing or upsetting.  This question is from Cynthia, one of those fortunate souls who does not have the need to share intimate details of her life with the whole wide world through a blog.

I have never done a lifebook for any of my children. When we adopted Apple I had never heard of the term. And adoption was so much of her regular life, that she was able to see the living example. We told her she was adopted a lot. When she was 2 and a half I asked her if she understood what adoption meant. I was pregnant with Rory at the time, and so I told her adoption meant that grew in another woman's body. She asked me whose, and I told her Noelle. She knew Noelle very well and we had been calling Noelle her birthmother. Apple said "I love Noelle" and then asked for some cheese. It was not shocking or groundbreaking. She doesn't remember it. When she was 5 or 6, Noelle made her a "family history" book that had pictures of all of her first family and explained their relation to Apple. She loves it. She has always looked at it a lot, she still does. Her paternal grandmother made her a photo album of her (the grandmother's) life and she loves it too.

Scruffy sees his first mom and knows he grew in her uterus. He talks to his first father on the phone, but hasn't seen him in over two years (he lives out of state). He sees his paternal grandparents about once a month. He probably could use a lifebook, because frankly his story is complicated to tell. I haven't done it yet. I'm going to cry "mother of four" here. He does know he is adopted, but I truly don't know how much he comprehends.

I always thought I would write a storybook about open adoption, because I never found one that explained our situation well to Apple. I figured there had to be other kids out there too with open relationships that would get something out of it, as well as the general public that could use a little education. Again, I plead "mother of four."

Feel free to ask more questions, or if you have experience with adoption, give your answer to these.

Comments

Thank you so much for your feedback... although I nearly chocked when reading that you were told you might have to wait 4 to 5 years!
I really like and trust our agency. They are very ethical and are always ready to listen. We have changed our letter once, changed our picture three times now. Our agency shows letters as soon as you finish your homestudy. They say there is a 10 month wait average, but I realized not long ago that the average is based on people who did adopt ( duh) and therefore the ones who are still waiting after more than 3 years are not part of the average.
I guess I will buckle up and keep riding until we get picked because, like you, I am only comfortable with the idea of a supporting agency. Merci!

Oh my. I have absolutely no idea how the whole adoption process works. But 22 months??? Really?Wow. That seems like forever. And to have to be interviewed and "shown" to the birthparents. I can't even imagine how stressful it all must be. You are strong, my friend! My heart goes out to everyone dealing with the adoption process. It all seems so complicatied. But it is good to know that if I am ever in that situation I have people like you to turn to for questions and advice. Thank you.

Courtney, it is a complex process and I know there are a lot of people who feel that the homestudy process is invasive. I actually liked it. It forced me to look at parenting and adoption and gave me a lot of insight. Plus if I were a potential birth/first parent- a homestudy is the least I would want in assurances that my child would be loved and safe. It is a leap of faith to place your child in the arms of strangers, so I really have no problem with what adoptive parents go through. Other adoptives parents or potential adoptive parents often feel otherwise.

And few people outside of adoption understand how adoption works- they really have no reason to. Thanks for your interest.

Any chance you could point me to any of your posts or any other blogs related to kinship adoptions? No biggie if not.

Thanks for blogging,
JennaM

i agree with you on that one, Lisa. i really liked the homestudy process and learned a lot. our agency is awesome and did some very good education which i think is so key to the process. there's almost nothing we learned that i think any parent wouldn't benefit from. i wanted more..
granted, in a stroke of amazing luck we found our son/ first mother before we had even finished our homestudy so my patience wasn't truly tested.
and thanks for answering my question too. i don't have the need to share intimate details of my life on a blog, just with those bloggers i feel like are really cool :)

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