Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Adoption Story II: The Boring Part


Ok. So maybe deciding to adopt wasn't as quick and easy as I made it sound in the last post. True, Demetri and I had been talking about adoption before we got married. But it wasn't always with certainty. There was a lot of fear and anxiety. What if we can't connect to someone else's baby? What if there are health problems? What if a birth mother never chooses us? We researched adoption. We read books. We watched informational videos. We overcame our fears enough to move forward. And we were met with a whole new set of questions: Did we have a preference for gender, race, or age? Were we willing to adopt a baby from a birth mom who did not get prenatal care? Who smoked marijuana? Who drank during pregnancy? Who had a history of any kind of mental illness?

We did more research. Read more books. Had lots of talks, discussions, and arguments with each other and ourselves. Gradually we were able to answer the questions. We did not have a preference for gender or race. However, I was adamant that we adopt a new born. As a social worker I had worked with many many kids that had been adopted after they were a year or older. These kids were great, and many of their families were great, but the kids were working their way through Reactive Attachment Disorder.* And it was always a long, hard battle for everyone involved. Although I was good at working with these kids in a 50 minute session, I knew my limits. We would not be adopting an 'older' child. We also decided that we were only willing to work with birth moms that had at least some prenatal care, who did not drink during pregnancy, and with a limited history of mental illness (depression and anxiety stuff was OK, Schizophrenia etc. not OK). After consulting a doctor, we decided that infrequent marijuana use was OK. After many discussions, we decided an open (or semi-open) adoption would work well for us and for our baby.

Next up: We had to get a home study. This is the part where a stranger comes into your home (albeit a nice, social worky one) and evaluates your potential for parenthood. And, if you live where I live, you are asked to sign a "statement of faith" promising to raise a child you don't even have yet in "the one true faith" as a "follower of Christ". This presented a . . . "problem" for me. Demetri and I were totally unwilling to sign a statement of faith. For one, we would be lying. For two, one does not need to be "a follower of Christ" to be a good parent. Apparently, in this part of the south they haven't heard that two-thirds of the world is not Christian. I called out of state and tried to cut a deal where we would pay for hotel and meals so a social worker could complete a home study. No luck. Finally, through a referral from Demetri's work, we found a teeny tiny local agency (they didn't even have a web site) that did not require a statement of faith. Thank god!

We cleaned the house like it had never been cleaned before. We gave Gilmore a bath. We framed pictures in which we thought we looked 'parental'. We put fire extinguishers in visible places in various rooms. I bought fancy cheese and crackers to serve as a snack. We put on nice clothes. Nice but not too nice -- we didn't want to look like we were trying too hard. We had our paperwork in a brand new, crisp purple folder. We didn't wear shoes when the social worker arrived so that we would look "casual and relaxed" when she came to the door.

The social worker came. She evaluated. She was kind. She gave us another binder full of paperwork. Yes, a binder. We had to get references. Check-ups and blood tests from the doctor ( I even needed a special note as I had a history of minor depression). Proof of marriage. Our educational transcripts (with the college seal). A note from the vet. Fingerprints. Yes, Demetri got fingerprinted at a gun store. Well, not just a gun store, the place also weighed dead deer. As much as I love guns and dead animals, I chose another location for my fingerprints. We also each wrote a 7 page biography. And no, we were not allowed to skip over the humiliating moments of middle school, poor choices that were made about men while abroad, or that one Grateful Dead concert. So yeah, the paperwork was all vaguely humiliating.

The end result? We passed.

* There are many, many "older" children who are adopted that never ever have to deal with this issue.

Come on . . . Don't we look like awesome potential parents?
(Pick us! Pick us!)


7 comments:

  1. My Top Five Favorite Parts of This Entry

    1. Ironic use of, "Thank GOd!"
    2. I learned about the statement of faith thingy. Who knew?
    3. Being reminded you had a grownup job before mommyhood.
    4. Shoeless=casual and relaxed.
    5. Demetri knows where the local gun store is located!

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  2. Wow that sure is a lot to go through, but I'm glad you went on the journey. I think it takes a a strong person to do this. You are awesome!

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  3. Oh my gosh - cannot *believe* about that statement faith thingy. DEEPLY OFFENSIVE. Glad you found a way around it. Good for you to keep trying until you did!

    Any other time, I'd say, GET THAT LAW FIXED! but clearly now is not the time. But on the positive side, since you are a gun fan, at least now we can take our guns into restaurants and parks, right? Yeesh.

    Sounds to me like the parenting part might be the easy part, after all you had to go through to get there! Congratulations, again!

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  4. On the one hand, so many things about what you two had to go through pissed me off so intensely, but on the other hand, I'm so glad you two decided to do it (and in such a thoughtful, values-based way) because Zoey is so lucky to have you.

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  5. The boring part? The BORING part?!?!? I think the word you were looking for instead of "boring" is perhaps "scary/unfamiliar/nervewracking/tedious/bonecrushing/freaky". Baring your soul and opening it up to blatant scrutiny has got to be just horrid. All parents should have to work as hard to have a baby -- then everyone would have as terrific of parents as you and Demetri.

    I think I may have found a new calling in life -- starting a big adoption agency that won't have anything to do with people who think you must be a Christian to be a good parent.

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  6. Will you adopt me?!?!?

    I can and can't believe everything you guys went through to show that you were worthy of adopting a baby.... On one hand, in the abstract, I approve of potential parents being put through scrutiny to make sure they're not wackjobs. But in reality, any idiot can get pregnant and give birth to her own child, so why should you have to jump through 8 billion hoops?!? And the Christian thing makes me so angry I can't even see straight. I'm so glad you found a way around that.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again-- Zozo is one lucky kid!!!!

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  7. Can we borrow your picture with the snowmen and photoshop our faces in in case we ever need it? :)

    But seriously, thank you for sharing your story. There is nothing boring about your writing.

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