12 New Things I’ve Learned About Adoption

A few weeks ago, in a past post, I mentioned that we were going to meet with a local couple who have adopted 2 children. Well, we finally met with them. Our connection to them is slightly removed – a friend of my husband’s sister and brother-in-law, whom we have never met before.

I’m never a person to be shy of making a cold call or striking up a conversation with someone I have never met before. I do it for work all the time, and I do it in social settings as well. But, I guess in this circumstance I was nervous. I felt like I was invading into a stranger’s life in a very personal manner. This isn’t just a “are you enjoying the beautiful weather we have” kinda conversation. This is such a personal topic, and such an intrusion. The irony of this, is that I had been annoyed with my husband for not speaking with his friend sooner to get there contact information, and then when I volunteered to contact her, it took me a few weeks to work up the nerve. I guess, I now understand my husband’s hesitation earlier on – funny how that one came full circle and I realize that he just needed the time to have the conversation with his friend.

First, I need to state that we truly valued the time that this couple took to meet with us. I called her, and less then 24 hours later we were meting with them. They invited us into their home; shared their story; experiences and initial fears with us; introduced us to one of their children (the other one was already in bed for the night); lent us a few must read books on adoption; shared the letter they wrote to prospective birth parents with us; and, answered any questions we had. It was a phenomenal experience for us, and we are so grateful for the honesty and support we felt when we were with them.

Anyways, here is the very basics (and only the basics, as it’s not my place to share) of what we learned about there journey:

  • Both of their children are adopted through domestic open adoptions.
  • They both still volunteer with the adoption agency, and strongly recommend them.
  • They went through infertility struggles including multiple failed IVF treatments before they chose to adopt.
  • Both children are healthy.
  • Their children are inter-racial.

And here are my 12 key take-a-ways:

  1. Not all adoptions are horrible. The horrible stories seem to get all the press, but there are countless stories of healthy/happy adoptions, you might just need to put in a bit more effort to search them out. And, if I ever need a reminder of a happy story, they are the family to think about (as are some of the stories I’ve heard about in the blogging world, but real life people that I’ve met are a bit easier to conceptualize).
  2. If you adopt children of a different race, be prepared for random comments from complete strangers – grocery stores are the worst. Some are rude, some are inappropriate, but most come from an innocent curiosity and most people mean well.
  3. Mothers of adopted children are faced with more questions than fathers.
  4. The adoption agency and birth parents will know more personal details about your life then your own parents. Be prepared to share everything, even the most personal details.
  5. Most people who adopt have gone through some sort of infertility journey. Most people don’t expect to be in the position where they are considering adoption and have a lot of fears. And this is okay.
  6. The comment that stuck with me the most is “once we decided to adopt, it’s the first time we had hope that we would have a family.”
  7. We have a recommended adoption agency to speak with if we choose to. This was really important to me, because if we choose adoption, I want to use an agency that has been a positive experience for others and somehow a personal reference means a lot more than an online testimony. It’s not quite like car shopping where you go to multiple dealerships and pick your favourite – it’s kinda a much bigger decision then that.
  8. In our province there is a 10 day change of heart period for the birth parents to change their minds. It is rare to occur (maybe 1 or 2 a year), but it does happen. This scares us – I couldn’t even begin to imagine this circumstance where you are forced to return “your” new baby.
  9. All open adoptions in our province are of new-born babies that adopted parents take home form the hospital.
  10. Many employers have a tough time with adoption, because there may be no notice. Typically with pregnancy, they have about 6 months’ notice that the women is expecting. With adoption, sometimes you get a call that a baby is waiting for you, other times, you get a few weeks’ notice.
  11. The average wait time in m province currently sits at 3 years! And that’s the average, so it could happen in as little as a few months, or take as long as 6 years.
  12. Often the adoptive parents will want more contact with the birth parents, then the birth parents want. Which is much different than most people expect.

So, will we adopt? We are no closer to a decision. I think my husband is on information over-load after last night as he hasn’t done much research into adoption. Me, a bit less so, simply because I’ve done a lot of reading and research. But, I can assure you, both of our minds are still trying to digest everything we learned. And, right now, for the first time, I actually feel like adoption could be a decent option for us. But we change our minds on this subject all the time, so really, who knows?

Feel free to check out my other posts on our adoption indecision:

To Adopt, Or Not To Adopt? That Is The Question

A Little Bit More On Our Adoption Indecision

28 Comments on “12 New Things I’ve Learned About Adoption

  1. I never would have thought that the adoptive parents would be the ones wanting the contact. I think it’s great that you were able to talk to someone who could answer your questions that wasn’t employed by an agency. It seems like a good way to get information without feeling any pressure or like you are committing to the decision to adopt.

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    • That was actually a really big surprise to us as well. There impression was that the birth parents lives also move on, eventually they may have a family of there own, or just have busy schedules. So it doesn’t always work out. It was definitely interesting.

      And, yes, we loved just being able to have a no-pressure conversation! It was such a fantastic way for us to learn more.

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  2. I think it is SO GREAT that you had your first one on one conversation with an adoptive family and felt good about it. As an adoptive parent, I can totally understand the fear that goes into the process, and the comfort seeing a family who has already done it with a great agency brings. Most agencies have an informational meeting that comes up once a month or so. Interested future parents come and watch the presentation to get the feel of the agency. Or, you can just set up a one-on-one. I found it really helpful to go to as many meetings where other people like us were congregating. It was enormously helpful to not feel so alone. Even if I changed my mind and didn’t adopt, it was super great to get to hear other people’s stories of infertility, etc. We just went to the annual picnic of our agency, and there were TONS of families there with their children. It just warmed my heart to see so many happy families, when I remember so well how trepedacious we were starting the process. I wish you could have seen it… 🙂

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    • Thanks for your comment and your encouragement! And, you are completely right, it was SO GREAT! They also mentioned these meetings to us, and suggested we attend some. Although, it sounds like you have to be in the adoption process to attend them, so they aren’t open to us yet. So, maybe eventually we will attend some. 🙂

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  3. Wow. #8 would freak me the heck out, too!

    Awesome of you to post this. Very personal and helpful for others considering this path.

    My best friend is an open-adoption birth mother. Her adopted son is now in his early 20s. She now has young kids at home too but her candour with me and her anguish in the early days of our friendship on his birthday has helped me understand so much more about open adoption and adoption generally from the birth mother’s perspective. She was also very helpful when we considered adoption as well despite her open adoption being less than ideal (we decided against adopting for a variety of reasons ultimately).

    Would you ever consider speaking to one of the birth moms who would with organizations to raise awareness etcetera if you decide on an open adoption process? Is open the only choice where you are (where are you if you don’t mind me asking – and I won’t be offended if you decline to answer. I won’t share that on my blog either but I’d answer if you emailed me – spirit.baby.please.come.home@gmail.com.

    Meanwhile, I wish you light and goodness wherever this journey takes you.

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    • Great point. The web is full of birth mother blogs. While some of them feel bitterness towards the adoption process, most of them are reassuring and give a good perspective on what a birth mom goes through after placement. One that I’ve been reading lately is: 20somethingbirthmother.wordpress.com/

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      • Thanks for the comments and thanks for the link to 20somethingbirthother. I just took a look at her blog, and it looks like a really good one for me to follow!

        You bring up a good point about meeting with birth parents to learn there perspective. Maybe number 13 on my list should have been our discussion about meeting birth parents. The agency that was recommended to us has evening events where you can meet with birth parents and during the 2 day course birth parents also attend to educate and answer questions. So, if we continue down the path towards adoption, discussions with birth parents will be part of the process. Which, I think would be very important for us.

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  4. #6 is so very true. Throughout our battle with infertility, we never felt like we had control. All of the procedures, drugs, shots, and other things felt dictated to us – like we needed to follow an exact schedule down to the second or we would never have a baby. That stress was brutal on both of us and our marriage.

    That’s why our decision to adopt was so liberating. We were in control. If we wanted to plow through the 2 inch stack of paperwork in a night, we could. If we needed a break before we complete our profile book, we could. Obviously, we knew the timing of these things could impact when we adopted, but the knowing that our journey would end with a child of our own was empowering.

    Congrats on taking a first step. Even if you do not choose adoption, the knowledge you’ve gained is invaluable.

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    • Thanks you for commenting. As always, I really value your perspective!

      I think for us (whether we went up with a successful pregnancy or adoption, or childfree) it is really important for us to have as much information as possible to make an educated decision. And so meeting with this couple was incredibly valuable!

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  5. Thanks for sharing, sweetie. This is something hubby and I have been going back and forth on. And I suppose we will continue to…for awhile anyway.

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