Some life events create memories and dreams that just stick with you longer and stronger than others. Like when Pacey and Joey* broke up—because that meant that Pacey was “fair game.” 😉
Then there was also that one time that I volunteered at ROYAL FAMILY KIDS CAMP. Royal Family Kids Camp is the nation’s leading network of camps for abused, neglected and abandoned children. Spending that initial week with kids in the foster care system opened my eyes and heart up in a whole new way and put a burning passion in my heart to adopt. I know I’ve shared with you before about my desire to adopt, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to make a first move in that direction. After my big medical fiasco, I realized just how precious and fragile life is and how quickly it passes by. I’ve had many opportunities to think about the things I had taken for granted and hesitated pursuing because of fears and doubts. One of those many things I’ve hesitated on was adopting a child. After much consideration, thought, and prayer, I decided to sign up for and attend a meeting at Amara to start learning about the process of adoption in Washington State!
I want to reassure you that this was just an information meeting, designed to cover the basics of the adoption process, the history of the organization, the numbers/finances involved, etc. The bonus was that we got to hear from a parent who went through Amara with her husband to adopt a child—a beautiful little girl! The majority of the crowd consisted of couples and the questions they asked were more geared toward adopting infants and small children, so I decided to just take notes and save my questions until after the meeting. I was very pleased that the majority of my questions were answered in the meeting and the others I had were answered afterward. I left the meeting feeling empowered, encouraged, and excited for what my future (and my family’s future) will hold! Speaking of questions, I’ve shared this dream briefly on the blog, but there are still a lot of questions that others have asked when I’ve shared in-person, that I haven’t answered here. I want to go ahead and take time to do that, so here goes:
Q: Are you adopting?
A: Yes! . . . but not today. I simply wanted to attend the meeting so that I would know what I’m getting myself into, what to expect, and whether it would even be possible for me to adopt. I am currently single and while I would LOVE to be in a dating (and eventually) marriage relationship, I don’t necessarily want to rely on a marital status to get the ball rolling. Adoption can take up to a year and a half to finalize and sometimes longer depending on the adoption criteria and the parents of the child up for adoption. IDEALLY, I’d like to start the adoption process once I’m engaged to the man I will marry, but if that doesn’t happen in the next couple of years, I don’t want that to stop me from pursuing the adoption. I do know that the man I marry must be someone who is okay with adopting our first child.
Q: Wait. Your FIRST child?
A: Yes. I want my first child to be adopted. Will my first for sure be adopted? Who knows. Everything in life is unpredictable and I very may well give birth to our first child, but again, IDEALLY I would want my first to be adopted. I want them to have the experience of being THE FIRST CHOICE after a long line of events where they may have felt “unwanted.”
Q: Do you have something against natural childbirth?
A: Yes and no. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the pain involved with carrying a child for 9 months only to have it rip through the nether-regions like a blazing torpedo. Nor am I a huge fan of goop, poop, and baby puke. That said, if I DO end up having a natural birth, I will go through all of that with the happiest, most content heart because it will be a life-giving process to a sweet child that my husband and I made. I will forever love that child, just as much as I would an adopted child, and it will know the beauty of love and family to no end. However, I do tend to lean more toward adoption as a personal option and would be perfectly fine with never giving birth to a child.
Q: What kind of child are you hoping to adopt?
A: A teenager. It’s no secret that I have an undying love for teens and helping them seize life to the fullest. I love their attitudes, inquisitive minds, ability to communicate more than younger children (if given the opportunity and right), and that they haven’t been completely “ruined” by the pressures of adulthood. I love that they are big kids! I most definitely love younger children as well, I just have an extra amount of love for those in their pre-teen/teen years. Then there is also the fact that in the foster care system, teenagers are less likely to be adopted because most are looking for younger children. That means that teens spend more time in the foster care system, sometimes bouncing around from foster home to foster home with an even more deconstructed sense of home, family, stability, and security. I want to rescue them from that and show them what it’s like to feel safe and wanted.
Q: Can you even adopt as a single parent?
A: That was actually one of my big questions last night. I know some agencies that I’ve looked into that don’t support single-parent adoption. However, Amara does. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll use their agency, but at least I know that it’s possible. The answer is YES, yes I can! That means that if I reach a point 2 years from now and I find myself still single, I will most likely go ahead and start the adoption process as a single parent. The cool thing is that the process is the same financially and structurally for adoptive parents, whether they are single or not. I wouldn’t be charged extra and there would be no extra hoops for me to jump through.
Q: What kind of adoption are you planning to go for?
A: I would like to pursue a “Foster-To-Adopt” plan. While I understand the beauty of simply being a full-time foster parent, I really do want a child of my own. I want to be a full-time mother to an incredible teenager who has endured the foster care system to come out on the other end knowing faith, family, hope, and love . . . permanently. I want to pursue open adoption because I think it’s important that a child who has been placed in foster care know where they came from and are able to stay connected to their birth parents, if they so choose.
Q: You do realize that you might not get to keep the kids that you foster or even try to adopt, right?
A: It’s a sad reality I’ve had to weigh-out a lot. It was reiterated last night at the meeting that there is ALWAYS a chance for heartbreak in the process and that there is ALWAYS a chance that at the last minute, the birth parents can change their minds and not release the child to you. I realize that I could go through the entire process of extensive home visits, training sessions, support group meetings, evaluations, etc. and still come out on the other end without a child to call my own. However, in the words of Julia Roberts, “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”
Q: What if the child you adopt is rebellious and comes with a lot of baggage?
A: I say bring it on! I think it’s easy to forget that we ALL have baggage and no load is too heavy for love to bear. It would be the same as if I had a child of my own that grew through the teen years with baggage and a strong-willed sense of rebellion . . . I would love them through it—tough love included! I don’t actually see much of a difference between an adopted child and a personally birthed child. The only difference I see is that I didn’t actually go through child-bearing and labor to have the adopted child, and again, I’m okay with that. I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than giving a teenager a “second chance” at ‘family’ and ‘home,’ and I am MORE than willing to work through with slammed doors, late night runaways, and unwise choices to help them get to the point of knowing that they are worthwhile, loved, and wanted no matter what. One of my favorite things that was shared at the meeting last night was the speaker’s advice that, “Most likely, the child that you adopt will not look like the one you have pictured in your mind.” I think above all, that reminder coupled with an attitude of flexibility, and a dedication to love no matter what will help me (and my husband) conquer whatever situations come with the adoption process.
Whew! That’s a lot of Q & A . . . and I’m sure there are still more. In the meantime, feel free to ask me more questions, pose scenarios, and just talk things through with me. I mean, please realize that no matter what you say/ask, I’m not going to change my mind about wanting to adopt, but I most definitely welcome conversation about it! I realize this whole process is going to change my life in so many huge ways, but I figure, what big event doesn’t—especially when it comes to adding new people into your family. I just hope I will be able to add you to my network of emotional/mental support along the way. It takes a village, y’know! 😉
*Holla’ back, fellow DAWSON’S CREEK fans! 😉