Wednesday, September 26, 2007

If you are going to clog your arteries, do it at Wendy's

Because Dave Thomas' adoption foundation is a pretty good thing.
So last night we had an informational meeting at Adoption From the Heart. It is a smaller agency, only licensed from NY to VA. They have an office in Harrisburg which is a huge bonus. The other agencies I have talked to were much bigger, and it felt more like a sales call. Last night was much more personable, an informal question & answer. Stephanie, the social worker who led the meeting, was very open and honest.
In my tag line I said we were following the ups and downs of our adoption journey. If someone had a heart monitor on me during this meeting the ups and downs would have been literal. One statement would thrill me, the feel of a baby in my arms almost tangible, while the next would could have me gagging on my own aorta. For instance, there was the couple who went into the profile books and had a birthmom the next day. The mother who attended the meeting waited two years and four months. Many of the adoptions happen after a mother actually gives birth and faced with an actually baby, calls the agency. That means you get a call and have to be wherever the birthmom is ASAP. You will be parents less than 24 hours after finding out the child exists. However, a Pennsylvania mother has 30 days to change her mind. This happens in 3% to 5% of cases. So you kinda hope that a mom in NJ picks you where she's only got 72 hours.
So the next step is to fill out the application. Once that is done, we have to attend some classes and have a home study which includes all the same background checks I had to get for my teaching certification. Then we put together a letter, pictures, and a DVD. Mothers who come to the agency look through the profile book, watch DVDs and choose adoptive parents.
It feels good to be moving forward in some way. Through the years I have had many different ideas of where my life would go. The one constant has always been that I would be a mom, and I would be a mom first and foremost. No career or dream of writing a novel has ever been as important to me as being a mom who puts the kids on the bus and is home for them when they get off of it. John and I made the decision almost three years ago that it was time for this phase of our life to begin. And three years later we are still waiting.
I enjoy teaching. I feel fulfilled by the work I do. Even though grad school is killing me, it is something that I feel passionate about. Yet, on some level it feels like a filler life, like I am treading water until my real life of play dates, bath times, bedtime stories, sleepless nights, croup, and toys down the toilet begins. It has been very scary the last three years, as that life seemed to keep slipping farther and farther into the future.
Currently, the absolute most important role in my life is as a wife, daughter, sister, and puppy mom. My life with John is more fulfilling than I ever thought possible before I met him. He has been nothing but completely supportive during every frustration that has come with trying to get pregnant.
Now I feel like our dream of being parents is much more solid. The role of my lifetime is not so fuzzy anymore. I can see it fitting in with the other important things in my life much more clearly. It might be years, it might be months, but it will be.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It seems the thing to do

Well, it seems like the thing to do these days, when expecting a child or after having a child, is to have a blog to document the major and minor happenings of these life changing events. Its the new baby book.
As most of you know, John and I have been hoping to welcome a child into our lives for two and a half years now. Whoever is in charge of survival of the species by the propagation of genetically strong offspring didn't get the memo.
Last month when the infertility doctor I was seeing closed her office, it ended up being a bit of a turning point for us. We sat down and had a long talk. We had gotten to the point in the medical process where things were starting to get expensive, and the monthly emotional roller coaster of even the most minor of treatments was turning out to be more than I wanted to face.
So we have opted for a different type of carnival ride, adoption. Think of it like a merry-go-round where the only way to snag the ring is for someone else to let it go. Also, your horse is broken and not only goes up and down but side to side as well. However, if our situation has come down to spending a great deal of time and money to become parents, we feel that we want to go with the ride that even if it takes a couple of years to get all the way around to the right ring, our chance will come around eventually.
OK, enough of the metaphor. (I do still have aspirations of becoming a novelist, and it can get away from me at times). So we have spent the rest of the summer reading, cruising the Internet, and asking everyone we know who has adopted questions that are probably too personal.
On Tuesday, we go to a free meeting at an agency in Harrisburg called Adoption From the Heart. Currently, this company is the forerunner. The representative I talked to on the phone was very personable and helpful without making me feel like she was giving me a spiel. The fact that they have an office in Harrisburg is a big plus as well.

This next section gets into the knitty gritty of our research, so I won't be offend if you skip it.

Our research is also leading us in the direction of a domestic, open adoption. Through this program the agency will create a profile of us that will be made available to birthmothers/parents. If one choses us, we will meet her. From there she will decide if she feels we are the parents she wants for her child. If we are, we will be able to be at the hospital when our child is born and take him or her home from there. That is the domestic part of it. Open is when the adoptive parents and birthparents will still have contact throughout the child's life. The birthparents can be as involved as they and the adoptive parents are comfortable with. This usually means exchanging pictures and letters a couple times a year through the agency or even meeting once a year again at an event arranged by the agency.
Through my research I have also realized that if you want to see racism alive and well, look to the adoption system. Agencies often have two different programs based on a baby's race. There is the African American/biracial program and the everyone else program. Everyone else is usually at least $5,000 more than the African American/biracial program. It doesn't cost less to adopt an African American child, the cost is subsidized, because there are so many more children in this category available. Originally, we wanted to try and get in both programs, because the more birthmothers who see our profile the better, but now I think our social indignation is making us lean more towards adopting a black or biracial or purple kid.

OK, potentially boring details are over. I promise that future posts will not be this wordy. I hope. I am me after all.

So that is where we stand right now. I will send a quick post on Tuesday or Wednesday after the meeting to let everyone know how it went.