Well, Anthony and I have taken the plunge. As you may have read here and here, we had a hard time deciding if we would adopt again, if growing our family was the best thing for all of us. This summer, I finally decided that I should either do it or shut up about it. I chose the former. With a call to our attorney and a few conversations, we were once again hopeful adoptive parents (AP’s).
Many people who know we are trying to adopt have asked if the process is any less complicated when you have adopted before. No, it is not. Adoption laws don’t care that you have already adopted, already had a criminal background check, already had your home studied. They don’t even care that you’ve already been fingerprinted. With the exception of the last example (since I can’t understand why anyone has to be fingerprinted more than once), I’m not bothered by the repetition of it all. Adoption is that big a deal. We’re talking about people, about becoming parents to someone else’s biological child. I don’t mind the scrutiny.
So, after filling out a large amount of paperwork, purchasing a new accordion folder (my OCD self did a cartwheel), and sealing a few envelopes, we had our homestudy this past September. On February 2, we were officially cerfitied to adopt. Again.
I was just kidding about the grabbing a baby part. Lighten up, people.
The search has begun. Any day, week, month or year now, we will bring another bouncing baby into our home. I’m definitely nervous. I’m definitely anxious. And I’m definitely thrilled.
I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore
With the help of Anthony’s friend, we put together our website. I set up our Facebook and Twitter pages and our profiles on various adoption websites. The strange thing is only three years have passed since we were last in the adoption game, and yet a lot has changed. Last time, I felt like the adoption tech guru. Not everyone had websites then and, honestly, most that I saw were pretty basic. Our “fancy” blue and brown paisley, Vistaprint-template site was unique. I also came up with the idea to use Google Search Ads to promote our site. At least 50% of the women who called me mentioned seeing our ad on Google. Back then, some other hopeful AP’s I knew didn’t even advertise online but only in print. I guess technology wasn’t that huge in the adoption world yet.
Now? I feel a bit like Beatrice in that Esurance commercial who posts photos on her living room wall and thinks she’s on Facebook.
Everyone is all over the internet. Everyone has a website and the websites are gorgeous! They’re unique and professional with themes and motifs. There are tons of searching AP’s on Facebook and Twitter, and EVERYONE uses Google Search Ads. It seems I have lost my edge. I have no edges at all. I’m basically a big, round thing. Sigh.
My new found technological incompetence is not the only difference though. The bigger difference has nothing to do with anyone or anything else, not other APs or Adoption.com or any of that. It has only to do with us, with our family, and mostly with Rosemarie.
The first time we adopted, we were open to many things. I’m not claiming we were open to anything. As we were told, we made our choices before the process began. We decided what we would accept and what we wouldn’t. They say you must make these decisions early because when that phone rings or when that baby cries, it is very, very hard to walk away. It may sound crude. Unfortunately with adoption, there are decisions you must make. Are you open to drug use? Alcohol? Transracial adoption? etc. We made our choices and stuck with them.
But we would have traveled anywhere. I would have agreed to pretty much any sort of contact with the birthmother. And we would have taken risks. I would have brought a baby home and fell in love, even if I didn’t know if that baby was definitely mine. I would have done these things. But I can’t anymore.
As all mothers know, all of your decisions and actions change once you become a mother, for anything you do is now influenced by your children, by their well-being and their happiness. The same has happened for me as we search for our second baby.
I cannot share details of Rosemarie’s birth family here. As I’ve discussed in the past, it isn’t my place to share. I will speak hypothetically only. If I were to adopt a second child whose birthmother wants more contact than Rosemarie has with hers, would that create issues for Rosemarie? Will it be hard for her to watch her brother or sister talk to his/her birthmother more often than she does? What if we adopt a baby that has less contact than Rosemarie? He or she could struggle with this disparity as well. What if we have one child who does not have contact with his/her birthmother and one child that does? Won’t that either create or intensify any feelings of rejection of abandonment?
Of course, every child is different and every birthmother is different. I don’t expect to find a situation that is exactly the same as Rosemarie’s. I only mean that we may need to walk away from a situation that is too different from Rosemarie’s, for her sake or the sake of our second child. It won’t be easy. Now that we are in it, I want so much to bring our baby home, but as a mother, it is my job to make the hard decisions. And if saying yes sets up Rosemarie or Baby #2 for grief, then yes can’t be the right answer.
Running the Risk
Every state has different adoption laws. In Nevada, for example, once a person signs a consent for the adoption, she cannot revoke that consent. In California, however, a biological mother has 30 days until her consent becomes irrevocable. Some states fall in the middle. In New York, a birthmother can revoke her consent within 45 days but the process of regaining custody is complicated and requires a “best interests” hearing if the adoptive parents choose to contest.
Before, I may have willingly adopted a baby from California or a state with similar laws. I would have taken that baby home and cared for him, feeling love for him grow in my heart even while fear grew there as well. I would have prayed that he would be mine but accepted the risk that he may not be. Now, we’re not sure we will accept such a situation because, now, Rosemarie will be here too. Rosemarie will be meeting that baby, calling him her brother, kissing his cheek good night. We don’t plan to allow Rosie to fall in love with a baby and then have to say goodbye. At only three, she cannot possibly understand and while she would of course overcome the loss, we really don’t want to expose her to it anyway.
Where does this all leave us? Well, the downside is that the more you aren’t open to in adoption, the longer it may take to adopt. We aren’t shutting the door on any of these. We have discussed each of them and we are going to take each situation individually. When we do receive a phone call from a birthmother, we will not walk away prematurely. Instead, we will look into the details and make sure it will work for our family.
It often feels strange to make such decisions. If we were having a biological child after all, there wouldn’t be many choices we could make. Alas, this isn’t my favorite part of the adoption process but it is part of it nonetheless. So, as Rosemarie’s mother and Baby #2’s mother, I will make every decision as best as I can for their sake.