Adoption Adventures

Follow Cory and Rebecca on their quest to adopt!

The Big Update Part I (Because no one wants to read this much at once)

on August 10, 2015

After years of talking with social workers and agency folks, taking all the steps to complete and then annually update our home study, marketing ourselves online (or at least attempting to), and just generally waiting around hoping for a call that would lead us to our child, everything about our adoption happened very quickly and not in the way we anticipated.

Spoiler alert!

Spoiler alert! Cory and baby Katherine

In February, we had been “on the books” with our adoption agency for a year. (We had been hoping to adopt for several years prior, first through foster care, then through private adoption.) As we moved through month after month with no contacts from potential birth parents, we looked for other ways to increase our chances of being noticed by people making adoption plans. We asked friends to share our adoption Facebook page and family profile, we made sure coworkers knew we were hoping to expand our family through adoption (in case they met someone hoping to place a child), Cory mentioned our adoption journey in music label interviews, I talked about our desire to adopt with the county social workers I met through volunteering as a Guardian ad Litem for kids in foster care, and we updated our family profile with new photos and a more eye-catching design. Still no bites. We asked our agency for suggestions and most of their ideas that we weren’t already implementing involved what felt like the same type of online exposure we were already getting–but with a higher price tag. Then I remembered a women whom I had gotten to know years earlier, while working together on local adolescent pregnancy prevention efforts. She started her own adoption referral service several years ago. After making sure it was ok with our adoption agency, we signed on with her service in early February of this year.

A referral service serves as something of a middleman between agencies and waiting families. The woman at the referral service is in contact with around 12 adoption agencies across the country. When one of those agencies has a potential birth mom who wants a different type of family than the agency has “in house,” the agency contacts the referral service, which then puts a brief description of the birth mom and situation (including agency fees) out in an email to the waiting families on her list. Families can then opt to have their profile shown to the potential birth mom/family. Once she chooses a family, everyone can agree to be matched together and the waiting family connects with the agency that the birth mom has chosen.

We got several emails while on the referral list, but none of them really spoke to us until one that came in May. There was a young woman in Florida seeking a family for her baby to be born in late June. She was a petite cheerleader, which stuck out to me because that’s how my own birth mother was described. This¬† young woman’s own mom had also become pregnant as a teen and made an adoption plan for her baby, so her family understood adoption and at least had to have a positive enough view of it for her to also make an adoption plan. Her profile described her as quiet and a book lover. She loved her siblings and didn’t like math class. She wished her mom didn’t have to work so much so that they could spend more time together. She had plans for her future that included starting high school–not taking care of a child so soon. There were still lots of unknowns about the baby-to-be, but we felt connected to the potential birth mom just through reading her profile. I had a really good feeling about it.

This was in a fortune cookie we got the weekend that Katherine's birth mom was making her final decision on adoptive parents

This was in a fortune cookie we got the weekend that Katherine’s birth mom was making her final decision on adoptive parents

We asked the woman at the referral service to submit our family profile for the potential birth mom to consider, then waited. We found out just over a week later that she had narrowed her choice of families down from six to three, and we were¬† one of those three families. A week later, we learned that she had narrowed her choices down to two families, and we were not in the top two. We were disappointed, but honestly elated to have even been in someone’s top three choices. That’s the closest we had ever gotten to being chosen and it felt great to know that someone liked us enough to consider us! Two days later, we got another email saying that there had been some miscommunication about us being ruled out and the potential birth mom hoped we were still interested. She had several more questions for us to answer. That was on a Friday, and we got the word the following Monday that she had chosen us!

We drove down to Florida the second weekend of June to meet the potential birth mom, her mother, and the adoption coordinator with the agency she chose. We were all nervous! Despite the butterflies, it was evident that this young woman had been exceptionally thoughtful in making her child’s adoption plan and choosing the family she thought would be best. It was also clear that she made this decision, herself, and was getting strong and positive support from her mother and her adoption agency. That was a huge relief! As we drove home, Cory and I tried to figure out what all we needed to do to prepare for a baby in just a few weeks’ time. We wanted to tell everyone what was going on, but told only the bare minimum of family, coworkers, and other “need-to-know” folks. If this fell through, we didn’t want to have to explain it to everyone and their brother for months to come.

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After trying out several colors, we went with Benjamin Moore’s Williamsburg Wythe Blue for the nursery

Once home, we brought all the boxed-up furniture, baby clothes, and other goods up from the basement and started putting the nursery together. A neighbor painted the nursery for us and we started a list of all the many “little things” we would need day-to-day to take care of a baby. Luckily, the adoption wait had given us time to poll parent friends about their favorite baby items and to check Consumer Reports for the safest ones. I installed the car seat base in my car, but kept it covered with a towel to avoid any questions people may have had about it. Although we were excited, we tried to stay cautiously optimistic about the adoption. We have friends who had gotten to the point of the hospital before learning that “their” potential birth mom had decided to parent. We wanted to stay realistic and allow the idea that this young woman may change her mind. She had the right to make whatever choice she felt was best up until signing relinquishment paperwork and we didn’t want to put any pressure on her.

James Turrell's Joseph's Coat at the Ringling Museum of Art

James Turrell’s Joseph’s Coat at the Ringling Museum of Art

We kept in touch through her adoption agency over the next several weeks. There were three different estimates for her due date, over a range of three weeks. Each date passed with seemingly no movement on the baby’s part, and an induction date was set for mid-July. Rather than wait for that date, Cory and I opted to drive down to Florida a few days beforehand. There’s so much that adoptive parents-to-be have no control over whatsoever, so it was nice to be able to make that choice for ourselves. We rented a cottage and visited local museums and an aquarium while we waited. There was a James Turrell skyscape at one of the museums, which was probably the highlight of our sightseeing.

It was such a peaceful place to sit and think that we went back to the Turrell part of the museum the Monday morning that Katherine’s birth mom was scheduled to be induced. It was while sitting there that we got the call from the adoption coordinator that Katherine’s birth mom had gone into labor naturally a couple of hours prior to her scheduled induction. We let her know that we were already in Sarasota and she called back several times throughout the day to give us updates. All the discussions we had about the birth up until that point involved Katherine’s birth mom and her mother going to the hospital for her delivery, and Cory and I visiting with the adoption coordinator later that day or the next. But a few hours later, we learned that the plan had changed.

 

 


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