Friday, April 3, 2009

So, Whazzup?

Almost every time I connect with a friend or family member after it’s been awhile, I can hear a question on the tip of their tongue. They want to ask, but aren’t quite sure how. I know they are curious, but are afraid that bringing it up could be painful. They want to know:

What’s up with our adoption?

Unfortunately, the answers right now are “not much” or “waiting, waiting, and waiting.”

One of the key characteristics of open adoption is that the birthmother selects the family with whom she will place her child. This makes absolute sense from an ethical standpoint, and the empowerment and “choice” involved in open adoption is one of the things that attracts us to it. From an emotional standpoint, however, it is hard for me to accept that there is not a whole lot we can do to influence the situation. We pretty much have to wait for a contact and then for a “match.”

M. and I were finally approved by our agency and the State of California to adopt “an infant of any race under the age of one year” in July 2008. (This, of course, followed the very arduous home study process, which I will probably write about later.) As soon as we were “in the book,” as our agency terms it, they began sending our Dear Birthmother Letter – a one-page glossy profile – to any inquiring women whose criteria match ours. They also linked our web site to the agency’s. The wait began.

Being optimists, we jumped every time the phone rang and checked our email constantly. After a few weeks of deafening silence, we became (a little) less obsessive about it.

I think it was in late July or early August when we were contacted for the first time. In the intervening months, I believe we have been contacted by phone six or seven times about different situations. About half the time, we’ve had an initial conversation and then waited eagerly for more contact that never came. That’s been discouraging, and always leads us to wonder if someone else was “picked” or if she decided not to place at all. The other half of the time, we’ve indicated to our agency that we’d made the very difficult decision not to pursue the situation.

How could we actually turn something down? Well, each time it was a very difficult decision (and I’ll confess to having second-guessed them a little as our wait extends). But in each case we felt like there were big questions – not necessarily even problems, but issues such as the situation with the birthfather, or possible health concerns – that couldn’t be resolved satisfactorily in the time frame before the baby was scheduled to arrive. We wanted to be more excited than nervous, and we just weren’t. (I wonder about those babies too, and hope that they and their families are all doing well.)

For the first several months of waiting, we actually felt encouraged by our level of contacts. In fact, in early August we received a wonderful email from our adoption coordinator: “You had more letters go out than any of my other clients this month: 28!” We recognize that we have relatively high “letter counts” because our profile is very open and we’re up to considering all kinds of situations that many other adoptive families aren’t (e.g., transracial, sketchy health histories, etc.). Our letter counts and the traffic to our web site made us feel like we were getting pretty good exposure and just needed to wait for the right contact.

But now it’s been eight months, and we haven’t had any contacts in a couple of them. We were frustrated through half of January and all of February because our agency put us on hold and didn’t send any of our letters out; our home study and “marketing materials” had to be updated to reflect our new home.

Now we’re in, we’ve been re-approved, and can even boast about the sunny bedroom “we can’t wait to turn into our baby’s nursery.”

So, that’s the latest non-news on our current status. Please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m not always in the mood to say much more than “still waiting,” but I continue to appreciate your interest.

Our Dear Birthmother letter and every page of our web site says, “We are excited and ready to be Mom & Dad!” I wonder many times every day if this will be the one that will bring us closer to our son or daughter.

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