Monday, August 29, 2011

Things that I am embarrassed that I do, but I do them anyway

So, in gathering more and more information about adoption, I have come to do some things that I wish I didn't do.  Though, since I have never been one with all that much self-control, I continue to do them and I have decided that I will feel better about them if I just get them all out in the open (especially since "out in the open" really just refers to the few people who will stumble upon this blog post).  So here is the list,

1) I check one of the adoption agency websites that we are considering using (the one we have a meeting with at the end of September).  I know, so far this doesn't sound all that bad.  But keep reading.  I check the website several times a week. Okay, sometimes it is more than once a day.  Again, this doesn't sound so bad.  And if I was just looking at more and more information to help us make a more informed decision, it wouldn't be that bad.  But, nope.  Instead, I am looking to see which, if any, perspective parents got matched with an expectant mother and which perspective parents have moved into the recently adopted section.  The day that I saw the lesbian couple move from the perspective parents section to the recently adopted section, I celebrated as if the success was my very own.  And then, after I check to see what movement has occurred, I scrutinize the pictures of the people who have recently adopted to see what it was that could have drawn an expectant mother to that couple.  Even though everything that I have read has said that you just have to be yourself as a couple, I want to know what those lucky couples have done to get themselves chosen.  See, I told you this was embarrassing stuff.

2) Carla and I have already picked out names.  I know, I know.  It's bad.  Again, everything that we have read says that you shouldn't prepare to much for a baby until a baby actually arrives.  Now, these books are talking about after you have entered the perspective parent pool.  WE HAVEN'T EVEN CHOSEN AN AGENCY YET.  Nonetheless, the excitement that came along with thinking of names was almost like a drug and I was totally hooked after just a few moments.  There was a long night when we lost power and had to stay up in order to take care of the fish in our fish tank (long story) and we spent much of those long hours thinking of possible baby names.

3) And if choosing baby names wasn't bad enough, this weekend we went to home depot and bought paint samples of colors which we would like to paint the baby's room! Now, I am completely satisfied with the two shades of yellow which we picked AND I do know that we would have to repaint this room no matter what, but to actually buy the paint samples. Oy!  We are in for one long wait!

So that's it for now.  I am trying to follow the rules. We are trying to do what the books say is the healthy thing to do, but it is so hard.  Carla and I just get so excited when we think about our future and our future with our baby that it is just hard to stop ourselves.  Thankfully, our wedding is right around the corner and for now that gives us enough distraction to stop us from doing anything too destructive!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our First Real Step

When Carla and I first made our decision to adopt a child, we decided to wait until after our wedding in October to take any initial steps.  However, since then we have spent much more time than we thought we would thinking about the adoption, thinking about having a child, researching adoption, reading books on adoption, and discussing our future as a family.  All of this has made it hard for us to wait to take any real action.

So this week, we took our first real step.  We called one of the two adoption agencies that we are feeling might be the right fit for us, and we made an appointment for a free, thirty-minute meeting with them.  Now, I realize that this is not really that huge of a step. There has been no money paid, there has been no commitment made, and yet as we made the appointment, my heart started to beat more quickly and my palms started to sweat, all good signs that this was indeed a very big deal.

I guess, for me, this was the first concrete step that we took that really said, we are going to do this.  We are serious about this.  This is what we want.  No matter how hard this road might be, we are making the decision to take it.  So I guess that is kind of a big deal.

Now, the bad news is that this meeting isn't for another month.  So, for the next month I am sure that I will be counting down the weeks, days, and minutes until we actually get to meet with the agency.  I want to go in prepared.  I want to have a list of questions to ask in order to help decide if this agency is the right fit for us.  The problem at this moment is that there is so much I don't know that I am not even sure what questions to ask.  So between then and now, if anyone has any good questions we should be asking the agency, please send them my way.

Other than that, I am hoping that when we meet with the agency, I will have some sort of gut reaction.  I am a huge believer in trusting that gut instinct.  It's how I knew that Carla was the person that I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life, it's how I knew that our current house was the house that we were meant to own, it's how I picked my wedding dress from the tiny picture on a website, and I am hoping that it is going to be the way that I know which adoption agency is the one that we are supposed to be working with.

So, our appointment is safely stored in my phone's calendar.  Every so often, I check to make sure that it is still there, that I really did put it in there in the first place, that we really do have this appointment waiting for us, and that we really are doing this.  I am excited in this really incredible way and right now, I am just really looking forward to this next step.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No more adoption books before bed

This is a new rule that I have set for myself. No more adoption books before bed. Last night, as I was trying to unwind from my second full day back at school, I decided to pick up one of our adoption books and read a bit before I fell asleep. Carla was next to me on her iPad. Before I knew it, tears were running down my face and Carla was asking if I was going to be okay.

I don't know what exactly happens, but no matter what I seem to read about adoption, I somehow end up crying. Sometimes they are tears of sadness, sometimes they are tears of joy, sometimes they are tears of fear, and most often they are a mix of all three.

This particular night, I was reading about the moment when an adoptive couple watches a birth mother say goodbye to her baby. This is not something that I had thought much about, but something that I am so thankful that I read. While the description broke my heart and the thought of actually experiencing such a moment ourselves was almost too much to bear, I am unbelievably thankful that I am at least aware of what is going to happen. I cannot imagine what it must be like to find yourself in such a moment without at least being aware of what is about to happen. The fact that I was thankful to have this information, made it no easier to get control of myself and my tears.  So there I was, crying in bed, totally unsure if I really was emotionally strong enough to handle the road that is ahead of me.

While I found the description of this moment difficult to handle, it also gave me a new found respect for birthmothers and a new found respect for the concept of an open adoption.  The description of this powerful moment led me to a new understanding of the incredible sacrifice that a birthmother makes for her child.  She is selflessly thinking about what is best for her child and putting aside the intense emotional trauma that this act is causing for her.  What an amazing thing.  These women deserve our utmost respect and they also deserve to know about what happens after their children leave the hospital.  An open adoption allows a birthmother to continue that connection with her child and I now understand why that is so important.  Ultimately, I believe it is the best thing for the child himself, but I also can now see the true benefits to everyone involved.

As I go along this journey, as I gather more information, I often find myself asking, "Am I really ready for this? Can I really handle all this?"  Reading about this moment really did leave me unsure of the answers to these questions.  But, when I put the books down, when I let myself fall asleep in the arms of the person I love, and when I woke up in the morning, more well-rested, I knew the answer was yes.  While the road ahead is going to be hard, yes, we are ready for this and yes we can really handle all of this.  The answers always seem more clear in the morning and that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why I have imposed the "no more adoption books before bed" rule.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Does Size Really Matter?

So far we only know a few things for sure.  Here they are:

1) We want to adopt a child.
2) We want to adopt a newborn.
3) We want to use an adoption agency as opposed to any other option.
4) There is a whole lot that we don't know.

And that about wraps it up in terms of what we know for sure.  Well I guess we also know that we don't want to take any steps with an agency until a month or two after we get married, twice, in October.  So, for now there is a lot of looking and deciding about what steps we want to take in the future.

One of the things that I have been going back and forth on is the issue of which agency to choose.  We pretty much have it narrowed down to two options.  One is a large, national, well-known adoption agency. There is a branch in Evanston, nearby where we live, that we know works with gay and lesbian couples.  The other option is a smaller, less well-known adoption agency that is located right down the street from out house.  Judging based on the information they provide on their website, they also are used to working with gay and lesbian couples.

I go back and forth between which is a better fit for us and I know that we can't make any decisions until we meet with both agencies and see which feels right for us.  They way I see it, there are advantages to both options.  Going with a larger agency, to me, means that more women who are looking for adoptive families are likely to that agency versus a less well-known agency.  However, I also love the idea of working with a smaller agency who really gets to know the people they are working with. Plus, does working with a smaller agency mean that we are competing with fewer families who are looking to adopt a child?  While I wish I didn't see these other families as competition, it is hard for me not to.

Above all else, it is important to both Carla and I that the agency we choose is used to working with gay and lesbian couples.  I found it extremely helpful to look at the information provided by the HRC's project, All Children -- All Families which can be found at:
This project listed gay friendly adoption agencies and also listed criteria to use when trying to decide whether or not an agency is open to working with gay and lesbian couples.  Since there were no agencies listed in our area, it was helpful to know what to look for when searching through agency websites.  Our current two options both met many of the requirements that HRC set, so I feel confident that either agency that we end up using with be open and welcoming to working with Carla and I.

So again, I hope to find others who know more than we do and I hope to find advice from those who have gone through the adoption process.  Until then, I will continue to search the web looking for answers to the multiplying questions that continue to pop up!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How much information is too much information?

So now that Carla and I have made the decision to go forward on this road to adoption, I have started to do what any good, nerd for life would do.  I have started to read everything that I can get my hands on about adoption.  I have bought three books, checked out books from the library, and spent countless hours researching gay and lesbian adoption online.

The sad truth, however, is that there is not much current information about gay and lesbian adoption out there.  Much of what I have found is outdated and the danger there is that even just a few years ago, gay and lesbian adoption seemed to be a pretty difficult thing.  So much of what I have read in books tells me that there is no way that a gay or lesbian couple can adopt a newborn baby.  And while I am so glad that there are people in this world who have the kind of hearts that they want to adopt older children, it is just not right for us.  So I end up starting to read a lot of things and then putting them away when I start to get discouraged.

Carla is amazing.  She is so positive about the process and believes in her heart that we are going to end up with a child who is just right for us.  While I wish I could get myself into that mindset, I just end up so discouraged when I read about the difficulties of the adoption process.   I keep alternating between telling myself that I just need to stop reading until we actually go and talk to an adoption agency and telling myself that in order to be successful in this adoption process, I have to read every bit of information that is out there.  I imagine that there has to be some good middle ground.  I know that there are some people in our lives that we need to talk to, people who have been through this process before.  I just don't know if I am ready for that yet.  I wonder if there are better resources out there than the ones I have been looking at.  I am open for any and all suggestions.

In the meantime, I go back to work tomorrow after being off for the summer.  A classroom full of fifth graders is probably just what I need to take my mind off of things for a while.  In addition, our weddings are right around the corner and I am so excited to finally be Carla's wife.  I am glad that there is so much going on in my life right now because it gives me some time to relax and just enjoy life before really going full force into the adoption process.

Again, if anyone should happen to find their way to this silly little blog of mine and has any good resources on gay and lesbian adoption, please send them my way and know that I will be eternally grateful!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Decision Has Been Made

As I assume all beginning bloggers must feel, I begin this blog with the assumption that no one is actually going to read it. I am okay with that because I think the real reason I want to write a blog at all is to have some place to put all of the emotions that I know will come to me throughout this process of adoption that we are about to begin. If someone happens to read it, if someone happens to have experienced the same things, if someone happens to be able to offer some words of wisdom, well then that is just a giant bonus.

So, I suppose I should begin by explaining how I got to this point in the first place. Let's see...okay, three years ago is as good of a place to start as any. Three years ago I met the love of my life. Carla and I met online, yep, it's true. We are one of those success stories that talks about in their commercials. We have spent the past three years falling more and more in love with each other and building a life together that I am truly proud of. In October, we will be getting married. Twice! Since lesbian couples cannot legally get married in Illinois, we will be traveling to the beautiful state of Vermont to have a legal wedding at the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory (a good consolation for not being able to get married in our home state) and then we are going to come home and have a big ceremony and party in Chicago!

Anyway, for as long as both my partner and I can remember, we have said that we don't want children. We both had very different reasons for this. For me, I spent most of my life believing that I was going to be alone for the rest of my life. It took a long time for me to come out and a long time to believe that I could ever be in a healthy, stable, long-term relationship. And then Carla came along and my whole world changed. All of a sudden, I began to imagine a future for myself. A future that involved someone else and a future that was going to be filled with love instead of loneliness.

And then, my nephew was born. I have to say that this was the first time in my life that I actually loved a newborn baby. And things began to change. I didn't really think about what was changing, but I knew that it was there. And then one day, while we were driving to see my nephew, Carla brought up the subject of children. We both admitted that we had started to change our minds about wanting a kid. And by the time we arrived at my sister's house, we had come to this amazingly huge, amazingly new, and amazingly terrifying decision that we wanted to adopt a child!

Over the next few days, we spent a lot of time researching adoption, gay and lesbian adoption, adoption agencies, etc. Some of what we found excited us to no end and some of what we found terrified us. We learned that international adoption was pretty much not an option for lesbian couples, but we also learned that domestic adoption had actually become easier for gay and lesbian couples over the past few years. We learned that adoption is incredibly expensive and that heartbreak is almost guaranteed at some point along the way. But we also learned that if you can tough it out, if you can wait the average of 18-24 months, then you have the possibility of having this amazing new life added to your own and that you have the possibility of welcoming this new being into your family. And somehow, that makes it all seem worthwhile.

So, we are still in what I tell my students is called the information gathering stage. We hope to talk to some people who have already been through the process. We are slowly sharing our new decision with friends and family. And we are having a lot of discussions between just the two of us on how we are going to make it through this whole thing.

Right now, I alternate between being unbelievably excited and unbelievably terrified. There is so much about this process that scares me, but the end result makes me want to do it anyway. So, should someone happen to see this post who has been through the adoption process already, any words of wisdom or advice would be much appreciated.

Until then, I hope to use this blog as a place to put my emotions down as we go through this process.

Here's to mommies and here's to babies!