Adoption Considerations

April 24, 2014

It’s now been more than a week since I closed the surrogacy book and (re-)opened the adoption book. This post has been sitting in drafts for more than a week as well. Along with a few others. You can expect a flurry of activity over here shortly. I’ve been holding off posting out of respect for my friend fighting metastatic melanoma. My problems pale in comparison. But perhaps reading about my world will help take her mind off of hers. The world moves on. Or something like that.

Within just a few days of announcing that the surrogacy didn’t take and I would be pursuing adoption, I got the equivalent of “Well, have you thought of…?” from several people. They mean well, I know. But it still kind of feels just like the fake advice you get while TTC – “Well, have you tried fertility yoga?” And yes, I did in fact ASK for adoption advice so it’s not unsolicited. But I’m not sure my real question was heard. Twitter can be a dick like that. 140 characters just isn’t enough sometimes. And last week was one the worst weeks of my life and I was off my game. But I’m also not sure people really understand how long this has been in my head. I’m not starting this process fresh. So I’m going to back up and explain exactly where I am coming from, what I already know, what I hope to accomplish and what questions I still have.

Yes, I have considered all of the following options:

  • International adoption
  • Foster care / Foster adoption
  • Domestic infant adoption
  • (Embryo adoption & surrogacy with B)

[Embryo adoption is out as I am no longer interested in pursuing potential babies. The roller coaster is just too much for me at this point.]

At one time or another I have researched ALL of those options. Although this will be the first time I do so with real purpose and intent it is not my first dance with adoption. I’ve been on the verge of going through with this on numerous past occasions. Which is why I know that we are currently only interested in domestic infant adoption. I am open to those other options but they are not right for us at this time. And I’m not doing this alone – Right Guy has opinions that have to be taken into account as well.

Also…yes, I have considered independent adoption. I know someone who just did it. You might be surprised to hear that although I was very much on board with independent surrogacy I am less enamored with the idea of independent adoption. For myriad reasons.

While I loathe the mixing of money and babies I feel strongly about doing things in a way that feels right to me. And for adoption that means using an agency. My surrogacy situation was very different.

I want to be as far removed from a birth mother’s decision making process as possible. I want to have some level of confidence that this vulnerable woman arrived at her decision without any coercion. And that, AFTER making the decision to place her child for adoption, she then CHOSE us to raise it. The closer I am to her in that process the more room there is for her to be affected by my presence – or my lawyer or agent’s presence. I want more people involved. I want her to have explored all her options before she agrees to hand over her child to me. I want her to have CHOICES. I want her to feel as good as she possibly can (which is to say: likely not very) about her decision.

That’s not to say that I think all independent adoptions are bad. I don’t. Every situation is different. Nor am I blind to the fact that agencies have their own vested interest in encouraging adoption over abortion. I really believe my eyes are wide open to all most of the negative aspects of adoption (one reason I delayed doing it). Just as they were for surrogacy. Any time you are involving a third party it’s inherently more complicated. A high level of respect for that third party should be required as she is not simply a means to an end but an autonomous human.

Also, yes, I am cool with the current standard of Open Adoption. I understand that it scares a lot of people and it’s nice to hear that those fears are generally unfounded. But I don’t really have them. Not that I don’t have any apprehension about it at all but… here’s the thing – I grew up with a handful of adopted kids and watched them go through the turmoil of the “Big Reveal” in first finding out they were adopted. I watched them struggle with not wanting to hurt their adoptive parents but still having curiosity about their genetic origins. In particular I remember a friend who was terrified of hurting her Mom but she really wanted to know where her wild hair came from and possibly get some advice on how to tame it. In contrast, my ex-husband Wrong Guy, never had any desire to hear anything about his genetic father. His mother (also his bio mom), wrecked with guilt, confessed it to him extemporaneously when he was 17. This seemingly had more effect on his younger brother than on him as the younger was learning that his big brother was in fact his half-brother. My point is this: secrets are not good for anyone, least of all the child. I also witnessed my high school boyfriend’s family go through a lot of adoption turmoil. While his older adopted brother spiraled out of control (presumably at least in part due to the secrets surrounding closed adoption) he gained a sister he never knew he had. His mother had given up a child to adoption and later adopted another to “balance the scales” in her mind. The first child tracked her down and they have a lovely relationship to this day. So yeah, I’m cool with the open part. Although, determining the idea level of openness is still difficult to navigate.

Anyone ever see The Hunt for Red October?

“Russians don’t take a dump, son, without a plan.”

I rarely do anything without a plan and without my eyes wide open to what I’m getting into. I have also watched – and paid attention – many of you go through this process. I feel about as well prepared as I possibly can be at this point. Will things happen along the way that I do not anticipate now? Absolutely. Do I know everything? Of course not. That’s called LIFE. And it’s the reason my contingency plans have contingency plans. And it’s the reason I am asking questions of those who have walked this path before me.

So here’s my question for people who have adopted:
What is something you would do differently if you could do it all over again? I know that’s difficult to ponder because you likely wouldn’t have the same child you have now if you had done things differently. But I’m asking anyway. Because I want to try and avoid the pitfalls I may not know about yet.

My previous questions posted on Twitter were not worded properly. I’m not asking strictly about what you learned that you didn’t know when you started. Or how much harder (or easier) some aspects are than you perceived them to be when you first started the process. I am specifically asking if there are things you would have done differently. I know that might be a hard question. And that’s exactly why I’m asking it.


19 Responses to “Adoption Considerations”

  1. Wife of a Sailor Says:

    Just here to give you support as I obviously have no “lessons learned” to give you. I’d feel the same as you about agency adoption vs independent adoption.

  2. soangiewrites Says:

    Good post. I am glad to be up to speed on your plans, and appreciate you sharing them. I will always hold hope for you.

  3. Just wanted to say I’m really sorry things didn’t work out with surrogacy. Good luck wading through this new journey. I think you are asking a good question.

  4. First off, I am so very sorry to hear about your friend. I am so impressed what you and others are coordinating for her and I am sure it is making her last days somewhat lighter to know such love.

    I was one of the people who commented on your twitter post, and sorry if I misunderstood it. For me, I think my husband dragged his feet on open adoption, and I put off researching it more out of fear and my own grieving. It sounds like you are well past the point I was when I entered adoption. Now on the other side, the only thing I regret was not pursuing open adoption sooner. It sounds like you have a better grasp/ understanding then I did, however.
    (My timeline was a bit different than yours, and it took some gradual adjusting along the way. 3 months of adoption prep, 7 months for a match and only TWO of those were with us open to open adoption with our agency.) We were chosen within one month of switching. Now, not to say people should just do open adoption to speed things up, absolutely not, but I guess it’s my only regret. But really, that’s the space I needed to grieve at that point in my life, so… it was what it was.

    I don’t regret our choice of agency, as I well researched it and found birth families that recommend them (which was really important to me.) In fact, here we are perched at adoption #2, and I could have chosen a different path and I am not doing so. The only thing different this time around is we are going with open adoption from Day 1 (but same agency and a lower budget as that’s all we can afford.) One thing I was really proud of was reading a lot of birth parent blogs including the anti-adoption ones. It opened my eyes to a lot of things- though it was hard to read- about what kind of adoptive parent I wanted to be. Because beyond the matching and the process, parenting in an open adoption is definitely tricky sometimes. But so worth it!

    The only other thing in looking back is that I regret I didn’t trust the process more. Trust that a biological parent would pick us. Trust that we wouldn’t be waiting forever. Trust that good things could happen to us. The hardest part of the whole process was WAITING for me and wondering if I’d ever get to be a parent or if I was doomed. But, that was my IF/ loss PTSD. So maybe a regret was not getting therapy for that sooner. And a regret of maybe trying to hop into it before I was truly emotionally ready as I was desperate at that time in my life and so very afraid.

    The absolute BEST choice I made during the adoption:
    Let birth mother take V for the night at the hospital. She asked us if we wanted to, and I suggested she do it. I wanted her to have that special time and I wanted her to be confident in her decision. It was scary, as I was afraid she’d change her mind but I let to go for one night so that she could let go forever. That built unspeakable amounts of trust.

    So that’s my honest to goodness appraisal of things in my situation. Good luck in figuring this all out!

  5. Lauren Says:

    I went through a domestic infant adoption almost 2 years ago, and would do everything the same with the exception of getting as much information as I could about his birth parents while I had the chance in person at the time of his birth. At the time, I didn’t want to pry and overstep my boundaries, but I regret not doing it now. We have a semi-open adoption but at this point, it has been me providing updates. I wish I had more background to someday give to my son, and I will likely open up the adoption more to ensure he has access to that information. I’d be happy to share what I’d do again if I decide to pursue another adoption.

  6. Mrs T Says:

    First can I just say DUH, you’re aware of the alternatives? Sorry you’re getting ass-vice and I will attempt to avoid any of that.

    Overall, we did alright with our adoption – partially through preparation and partially by accident. These are the things we would have done differently… most are minor in the scheme of things, but they are the things we will do differently the second time around:
    –talk to the ACTUAL people you’ll be working with. It’s all well and good to make a decision on an agency and/or home study provider by talking to their designated person for answering questions, and you should definitely start there. But in the end, that’s NOT the person who will be working with you on your homestudy and coaching you through the process. You want to make sure you have a good rapport with the person you’ll be dealing with.
    — ASK MORE QUESTIONS during the process. We were so taken aback by the first rude response to an email we got (hence the “talk to the person you’ll be working with” advice above) that we completely shut ourselves down asking questions that we had the right to ask.
    –more agency research. We did some online scouting and we emailed the names of the people our agency provided us with as references, but now I believe that wasn’t enough. I should have joined message boards and asked questions of members. Then I should have asked the agency to address the things the message-board members said.
    –pay attention to the agency contract. You want a contract that is tightly written and sets out their obligations and not just yours. Watch for extraneous stuff like gag clauses. There is a difference between an agency contract that does the usual “limiting their liability in the case of x, y, z” stuff versus a really heavy-handed one, and I think the contract will give you good idea of what kind of attitude you’ll be facing if push-comes-to-shove. Our agency fell a bit more on the heavy-handed side, though I appreciated knowing up front EXACTLY what was going to happen if things started to fall apart.
    –Where does the money go? They may not want to set out every dollar for you, but you should have a pretty good idea what the money is used for. Our agency was TERRIBLE about this.
    The more I’ve thought about things lately, the more I’m convinced we shouldn’t use the agency that you and I talked about. Back to the drawing board for us :/

  7. Jenn Says:

    I HIGHLY recommend going to the OurAdoptionOption YouTube channel here:

    She has a couple years of posts and has gone through 2 open adoptions for her 2 boys. I think if you go back to her earlier posts, you can get some good resources. I originally found her when we were considering our options. While it isn’t in the cards for us, I still find it interesting 🙂

    • Jenn Says:

      Forgot to warn you that it might be painful watching the videos with her boys? I don’t know. Just thought she might have some helpful posts or at least would want to watch her experiences.

  8. Supporting you no matter what you choose is my goal. If it works for you and right guy, that’s what matters.

    Sidebar: my husband found out around the same age as yours that his dad wasn’t his “dad”. This also made his younger brother his half brother. And my husband has no interest in his bio father either. What I’m saying is, we’re you once married to my husband? I mean he CLAIMS he was never married before me but….

  9. Also I have a coworker who adopted two kids from the same momma and I can ask her your question tomorrow if you’d like.

  10. swo8 Says:

    I’ll say a little pray that things work out for you in the best way possible.

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