An Interview with a client from Our Chosen Child, Cheryl & Dustin
What were the beginning steps of your adoption journey??
Lots of research! Making the decision to adopt came easily. It was trying to figure out what to do next! Do you do domestic, infant, foster, international??? So many questions. We decided that for our family, private domestic infant adoption was the route we wanted to go. In the end we interviewed 8 different agencies, facilitators, and lawyers. We created a list of things we wanted to know about each of the 8 candidates and went from there. We ended up going with a full service law firm.
Did you use social media to help gain exposure of your adoption journey?
No. Now that I know about all the different social media, we may have done things differently. Overall we tend to be reserved people, and really didn’t advertise our adoption beyond people we saw often, family, friends, co workers. We knew the wait would be hard and didn’t want the constant “anything yet” questions.
Did you receive support from your family, friends, & community throughout your adoption journey?
Everyone was so supportive. We had multiple people come forward and tell us that they had been adopted and how wonderful they thought it was. I even had a coworker pull me aside and tell me she was a birth mom and we had a great in depth discussion. Both of our parents, siblings and family members were so supportive of the decision. Our coworkers threw together a shower after we came home with the baby, as well as another shower with close friends and family. Everyone was so excited!
What advice do you have for people who want to support a friend or family member who is in the adoption process?
Be there. That is my best advice. Be there. This process is HARD. Many of these adoptive parents-to-be have had years of infertility, miscarriage…..or have had it on their heart for a long time. Adoption is not a spur of the moment decision. Once a friend/family member has decided on adoption, then they have to find an agency/facilitator/lawyer and begin a home study. They have to pour their hearts into making a very raw, very open, wonderful profile for the prospective birth parents. Then they WAIT. Honestly, for us, that was the worst part. All the other parts required action from us, however, once all that was done……we just had to sit back and wait to be picked by a birth mother. For us that was 10 months of just WAITING! Our family and friends were really good about just being present but not asking constant “anything yet?” questions. When we were getting frustrated with the wait, we had friends who planned a little getaway for all of us to just hang out and have our minds on something else. Our lawyer gave us monthly updates, so it was nice, we were able to tell family how often our profile had been sent out monthly…..but our family did not ask. They were excited for the updates and always willing to help in whatever way possible, but never really invasive. We just knew they were they if we needed them.
I would say also become familiar with appropriate terms for adoption. Please don’t ask questions like “but don’t you want to have real (biological ) kids”, or “can’t you have your own children” etc. While not meaning to, those questions are very hurtful. Please learn proper terms, especially if this is a close friend or family member that you will be interacting with in the future. People often turn to adoption after infertility, but not always. DO NOT ASK, IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. That is a VERY personal question. If the information is not shared, please do not ask.
How did you connect with your child’s birth parents?
Through our lawyer. We went through a law firm that does advertising to all 50 states. Our birth mother actually contacted this agency because she knew someone who had gone through them and had a good experience. She was very late in her pregnancy and they sent her profiles of all the families who fit her criteria. Our birth mother told us she sat down with her family the night they got the profiles and everyone went through all of them. They then took a vote of their favorites. She says it was a unanimous vote. We got a phone call from the lawyer on the afternoon of July 1st (a Friday). We both worked and talked about it when we got home. We then spoke with her for the first time over the phone on July 4th and decided it was a great fit!
What was the first contact like with your child’s birth parents?
Awkward, exciting, wonderful. It was like a blind date over the phone! There was few awkward minutes and then we both admitted we were horribly nervous, had a good laugh, and then the conversation flowed. We were planning to talk to her again in a couple days, but she went into labor the next day! So we ended up meeting the day after we talked! Our birth mom was very excited to show us the baby. We spent hours in her room, all admiring the baby and talking about his name, the nursery, all of our hopes and dreams for the baby. We showed her pictures and she pointed out all the fun genetic traits he has of hers. It was a very good first meeting.
Are you still in contact with your child’s birth parents or any of their family members. If so, what role does social media play in keeping you connected?
Social media plays a huge role in our contact. Our birth mother does have our phone number and we receive an occasional text, but for the most part our contact is through Instagram. We had a long discussion when we were hanging out at the hospital with our birth mama about what everyone’s expectations and hopes were. She really wanted photos and we all decided the easiest way was through social media. We created a private account through Instagram where our birth mother and her mother, who we met, are the only friends on there. We were firm on the fact that these would be the only people added to the account, but that she is free to show the pictures to whomever, but not to post on other social media. It was trial and error of how often and how much in the beginning. She wanted daily pictures in the beginning as she dealt with the reality of adoption, but it slowly backed off. We finally all decided that we would do weekly updates. Now she knows that every Friday night by 8pm (so for the weekend) she will have new pictures. Usually do 6-12 pictures depending on what the week has been like. Sometimes a couple videos when he does something new or funny. She then likes the pictures or comments and we know that she has seen them. It works out great and everyone is happy knowing when pictures will be there. I don’t know if we will always do weekly pictures. But with him being little, this works for right now. We very much want to keep in contact with our birthmother and she seems to want to as well.
We also have sent hard copy photos of professional photos, such as newborn photos, Christmas photos etc. So that is not very often.
Did you have any fears about the adoption process that have turned out to be non-issues? What advice would you have for someone just starting out?
We were unsure about how much contact we wanted with the birth mother. We signed up for an semi-open adoption. Once we met our birth mother, that was kind of a non-issue. Its more open than we originally planned, but we are very happy and comfortable with the level of openness.
The whole process is overwhelming. I would say be very honest with your adoption agency about what you are and are not willing to accept. If you are not ok with a drug exposed baby SAY SO. If you are fine with a baby with drug exposure SAY SO. Just be really honest. Have a talk with them about realistic expectations. I feel like that helps take a little bit of the fear/unknowns out of it.
Do you have any advice for potential adoptive parents going through ‘the wait?’
Plan things while you wait. For us it was important to still buy concert tickets, plan vacations, etc. (Costco has great travel insurance!) It was good/healthy for us to plan things and not be completely focused and sitting around waiting for a phone call. We bought a crib and painted a dresser we had for the nursery and put everything in a corner of a room. I bought a travel bassinet and a couple gender neutral outfits because I was convinced we would get a last minute call ( which we did!). Other than that, we did not decorate or complete a nursery. We did that afterwards. Just know that the wait is hard and try not to be discouraged, because when they place that perfect little baby in your arms, it makes it all worth it!