Adoption: Our Family’s Adoption Journey, the Beginning
I am the proud adoptive mother of three fantastic girls. For those of you who follow me, you may have noticed that my experiences with them factor heavily into what I write about. Being their mother is without question the greatest joy in my life and sometimes it’s hard not to shout it from the roof tops.
I have always known I wanted to adopt children. Growing up, my family fostered children and had hoped to adopt. Sadly it didn’t end up happening for them. But my mother has a theory that maybe it wasn’t her job to adopt children, but to plant the seed of adoption within me. She thinks that sometimes it takes a few generations for plans to come to fruition. I credit her for starting my family on our adoption journey all those years ago.
A Simple Plan
In my twenties my plan was simple; have one or two biological children and then adopt one or two children…oh and maybe find a partner who was willing to go along with this plan. No problem right? Well believe it or not, the partner thing was no problem, in fact when I met my partner I was so sure he was right for me that we were married five weeks later. (That was almost 11 years ago by the way, but that’s a story for another hub.)
The tricky part came when I was diagnosed with serious fertility issues. It felt as if my dreams of having a family were destroyed in one horrible doctor’s visit. I was 28 at the time.
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- AdoptOntario - Every Child Deserves a Forever Family
An adoption resource filled with excellent resources, personal stories and important considerations for adoptive parents. Although it targets residents of Ontario, Canada, much of the information is beneficial to anyone considering adoption.
A New Plan
Eight weeks into our fertility treatment we decided to stop. My partner and I both realized that what we wanted more than anything was a family; it didn’t matter whether our children had our DNA. Being a parent meant more to me then being pregnant. Adoption was the right path for us. And so we walked away from the fertility clinic and never looked back.
Our next big decision was how to go about the adoption process: domestic or international, private or agency? In the end my family’s fostering experiences lead us to where I felt we would find our family, the Children’s Aid Society. Again, our driving force was not to have a baby, but to create a family. We knew that there were children needing a "forever home," and we were a couple wanting children, we just needed to find each other. The Children’s Aid Society made that happen.
The agency recommended that we wait at least a full year after our fertility treatments before starting the adoption process. So we waited and then signed up for the mandatory adoption course thinking it would probably be a few more years before we became parents, but at least we were on our way. Little did we know…
It was a harrowing process. First we had to complete a 30 hour adoption/fostering program that would prepare us for some of the challenges we might encounter. We heard a lot of tragic and heart breaking stories in those 30 hours.
Then came the paperwork. The questionnaire asking what we would and would not accept in a child was the absolute worst. Age range? Race? Would we consider adopting a child with disabilities? What kind of disability would we accept, mental, physical or both? Could they be missing limbs? Would we consider adopting a child with Down Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? The list went on and on. How about a child with a history of abuse? Sexual, physical, neglect? By the end of the paperwork I was completely shell shocked. I suspect that was the point. Children in this system aren’t perfect, they have a past and we needed to be 100% honest with ourselves about what we could handle.
So in the end we ticked off the boxes that were right for us and handed in our papers. Our end conclusion surprised us, no babies, and sibling groups would be okay. Be careful what you wish for.
When our adoption course finished we expected that a home study would be done in the next few months and then we’d have to play the waiting game. That’s how it works for most people. But to our surprise we got a call two days later saying that they would like to start our home study immediately. Something about the adoption worker going on vacation and needing to get our file completed. So we charged ahead thinking nothing of it. Cue anvil.
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- Life in the Grateful House
A wonderfully honest and no holds barred blog from both adoptive mother and adoptive daughter about the trials and tribulations of adoption. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Absolutely worth checking out.
Thankfully our home study went well. On our final visit with our social worker she ended our chat by telling us that she had a child in mind for us and that she was going on vacation for a month and here was the file and to think about it. Drop anvil.
Let me just say that social workers are very smart and good at what they do. To protect everyone involved they do not attach a picture of your potential child to the folder, just the cold hard facts so you can make an informed decision. I read the facts over and over; there was a lot to process, a difficult past, a lot to overcome. But what I focused on most was that there was a five year old girl out there who needed a "forever home," and we could give that to her.
The time between reading about her and finally meeting her felt immeasurably long, but once she sat in our living room it was like a glittery, wonderful snowball of craziness got rolling. It was going to be complicated, she was not quite available for adoption yet, there was a court case. And would we consider the foster with a view to adopt program? Oh and there were siblings to consider. She had younger sisters who they planned to place with another family. Each girl had special needs so instead of waiting to find one family to take them all they were going to split them up. We’d have to be willing to let her have a relationship with them wherever they landed. We said yes to it all.
A Family of Three
And so it began, little by little, our soon to be daughter started to spend more and more time with us, an afternoon visit to start, then weekends and finally moving in on a Friday the 13th of all days, with a plan to continue to see her younger sisters in place. It was an exhilarating and terrifying time for us all. It all happened in less than nine months.
Once she moved in with us full time, it wasn’t long before she brought up her sisters. She had never been apart from them and was consumed with worry. She’d often started conversations with “You know what would be great? If my sisters were here.” She was right; it would be great…and insane. Were we really going to consider this? Going from no children to three children that would be crazy, right? Would the Children’s Aid Society even consider it?
We decided to stick a pin in it and see how things went with the visits. Her sisters were scheduled to come every other weekend, and if we survived the visits then we’d think about it.
No matter how much you want children, going from being two professional adults with only a dog and a cat to worry about to having a house full of little girls is quite a change. Having one move in was a serious adjustment, but three pretty much rocked our world. The first few weekend visits became about damage control more than anything else.
Fantastic Adoption Blog
I can pin point exactly when my husband and I decided we wanted to adopt all three girls. It wasn’t at the same time. My husband knew first. It was after our first outing with all three girls on Halloween night. We had gone trick or treating in a shopping mall with the girls and almost lost one. A few days later we were driving somewhere together and out of nowhere he said “we need to think about adopting all three of the girls.” I can’t remember what my response was. I was feeling scared and overwhelmed at that point and was I really up for an instant family of three kids?
It wasn’t until the third weekend visit from the younger girls that I finally realized that we were all meant to be a family. I remember really wrestling with the decision at the time. On paper our girls are terrifying, they have lived through some pretty horrific things and some have serious challenges, and one of the younger girls was developmentally delayed and was showing signs of an intellectual disability that left her future uncertain. I was going to be her Mom, the brunt of her care would fall on me. Could I do this? I asked for a sign.
Twenty minutes later her sister crawled on my lap and asked me in her sweet three year old voice “When are you going to be my Mom?” I don’t think I could have gotten a clearer sign. They have all been mine from that day forward. Even though there was a court case looming and there were no guarantees that the Children’s Aid Society would say yes to us adopting all three, in my heart I loved them like my own children and prepared to do whatever it took for my girls to stay together and for us to be a family.
A Family is Born
And that was that, alright not exactly. It took some time and a lot of leg work on everyone’s part to ensure that we knew what we were getting into and that we could handle their challenges, but the girls eventually moved in with us and we were officially all three of the girls’ foster parents until the court case was resolved and the adoption could proceed.
Looking back though, I don’t remember the day when the judge finally banged his gavel as being the day the girls became ours, I remember that day in the chair. That’s the day our family was born.