Adoption Adventures

Follow Cory and Rebecca on their quest to adopt!

We’re live! But what does that mean?

Our adoption website with our agency is finally up and viewable!

It’s been a long road to get here, and we’ve still got miles to go. Since we’ve gotten lots of questions about where we are in the adoption process, here’s a handy timeline to give folks an idea of where we’ve been and what’s likely to be ahead of us.* (Click the timeline to enlarge it.)

AdoptionTimelineMarch2014

In short, we’re at the point now where potential birth parents (and anyone else) can read about us on our website. They can send us messages through the site, call us on our 800 number, or specifically talk about us when communicating with the adoption agency.

Coinciding with the website launch is our agency’s ability to send information about us out to potential birth families. If a potential birthmother calls the agency and says she’s seeking placement for her future child with a certain type of family, our agency can send her a print copy of our brochure (aka our Dear Birthmother Letter) if we fit the bill. For example, if she’s looking for a same-sex couple living in Oregon who is fluent in French, the agency would not send her our brochure. But if she’s seeking a heterosexual couple in the South, our brochure would go with those of other couples into a packet mailed out to her.

The average wait time for families like ours with our agency is around 15 months. However, it’s up to the potential birth parent to choose a family**, so we could get a call tomorrow, or we may not hear from anyone for years.

For now, we’re closer than we’ve ever been–even if we have no idea what that means!

*If you’re interested in pursuing domestic infant adoption, yourself, don’t be concerned about our multi-year timeline. You could jump right in at our March 2013 point and be just fine.

**Potential birthmothers and potential adoptive families have to both agree in order for the adoption to occur. So while she will be the one choosing the family for her child, the family can decline if they don’t believe it’s a good fit. Relationships count for a lot in open adoption, so it’s important for everyone to be on the same page.

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GAL-ling Around

Who doesn’t love a terrible pun? Many people, it turns out. That’s why I’m having to restrain myself from making GAL puns these days.GALBlog

GAL stands for Guardian ad Litem, which is what our state calls volunteers who are trained and appointed by judges to be advocates for children who were abused or neglected, and are now in foster care. In some states, Guardians ad Litem are called CASAs, or Court Appointed Special Advocates. You can read all about what GAL and CASA volunteers do on the national CASA website.

As the regular readers of this blog know, our attempts at foster care adoption opened our eyes to the many challenges that children in care face and the need for more advocates of all types both inside and outside of the foster care system.  A representative from the GAL office came in to talk with our MAPP class last year and I remember thinking to myself, “These GAL folks are totally the badasses of foster care.” In a system where so much emphasis is put on the rights of biological family and there’s such a large amount of red tape to get through to make change happen, the GAL is able to advocate solely for the child in care. And, as a volunteer, a GAL isn’t beholden to the same people as a social worker or foster parent. The goal of every GAL is permanence for “their” child, whether that be reunification with the child’s birth family or adoption outside of the child’s biological family. Studies have shown that children with GAL/CASA advocates are substantially less likely to be in long-term foster care, they have a higher chance at adoption, and they get more support services while in foster care.

Seeing as a large part of our interest in adopting a child from foster care was to give a child a safe, loving, and permanent home, becoming a GAL was right up my alley! So I signed up, was interviewed, completed the training offered through our local GAL office (it’s a challenging course, but doable), and was sworn in last week, and got my first cases yesterday. If the stats on the CASA website ring true for me, I’ll be able to help get far more children in permanent homes as a GAL than if we had simply adopted. As with so many things, it’s all about figuring out where you can do the most good, then getting in and doing it!

Quick update: I got the opportunity to talk with a local reporter about being a Guardian ad Litem in hopes of bringing more volunteers to the program.

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Why?

It’s human nature to wonder why people make the choices that they do, but it’s good etiquette not to ask about people’s personal choices about their families. What a pickle! We know that people are curious about why we—or anyone—may want to adopt, so we’re including this handy section to explain:

 

Cory and I first talked about adoption a few days after we started dating in 2001. Cory was in law school in Chapel Hill, I was in DC trying to find a job, and we e-mailed each other frequently. While we were in separate states, we took the time to share our hopes for the future. Neither of us knew for sure if we wanted to ever have children, but I said that if I did become a mom one day, I would want it to be through adoption. Adoption had treated me very well in the past (I was adopted by the ideal family for me when I was two months old) and it’s a legacy I’d like to share with my own child or children one day. Cory agreed that it’s not DNA that makes a family, but the love that people share and the way they care for one another. We married a little over two years later in January 2004 and grew our family with the addition of cats rather than people.

 

Over the years we talked more about having kids and realized that while both of us think babies are delightful, we think of ourselves as better with toddlers and older children to infants. (But we have it on good authority that humans are only babies for a few months, versus being non-babies for most of their lifetimes.) And although we have no reason to think we could not give birth to a darling fleet of pasty, dark-haired, allergy-prone, nerdy kids, we would be just as happy to adopt those indoor kids. So why not grow our family while getting kids out of foster care at the same time?

 

We went to an informational meeting on adoption and foster care (which turned out to be entirely about therapeutic foster care) in 2008 or ’09, and I would regularly peruse the AdoptUSKids.org website to find out more about children living in foster care. Last year while looking at the site, I stumbled across the profile for young Amanda in Oklahoma, whose photo showed her proudly holding up the medal she won in a geography bee. I showed her profile to Cory, who was immediately smitten. Although we knew that Amanda most likely wouldn’t be in foster care for much longer with a photo like that, we decided the time was right to get ready for kids and began working with a private agency to begin the adoption process. So although our hopes to adopt may be news to some folks, we’ve been planning for this for years.

 

So, to recap, we do want to adopt from domestic foster care because we see doing so as a win-win for us and a child. We do not want to adopt because we’re obsessed with the Jolie-Pitt family (well, we may be a little obsessed, but that’s not why we’re doing this), because my eggs and uterine lining have formed an anti-implantation pact in response to my years of pro-choice activism, because we’re horribly concerned about me losing my girlish figure or Cory gaining sympathy weight (time, gravity, and delicious doughnuts prove those things happen anyway), or because of either organized or disorganized religion.

 

And in case your “Why?” is about why we’re keeping this blog, it’s twofold. We want our friends and family to be able to keep up with where we are in our own move toward adoption (and opted to wait until after our home study was completed before posting anything), but we also want to demystify the process of adopting from foster care and challenge common misconceptions people have about it. Who knows? Adopting may be your calling, too.

 

 

Would you trust these people with a child?

How about these people?

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