Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A (second) decision has been made

A lot has happened since I last wrote.  I will try to remember it all and recall it in a somewhat interesting manner.  It all began last Thursday.  Last Thursday, I participated in my very first webinar.  Let me begin by saying that I am not exactly webinar material.  I have enough trouble remaining focused when there is a speaker right in front of me who can see when I have become distracted.  Sitting in front of my computer, next to Carla, while an unknown man in a far away location switches slides on our screen and talks about adoption was a real challenge for me.  However, once things got going, I adjusted to what was happening and was able to summon up all of my attention to focus on the material being presented.

The agency that was hosting the webinar was the larger of the two agencies that we had been considering.  The agency is called the Cradle and it is probably one of the most well-known agencies in the Chicagoland area.  The webinar did an incredible job presenting us with enough information to make us feel informed, but not too much to overwhelm us.  They described their open adoption policy in a way that made me feel as if open adoption is truly the best option not just for any of the adults involved, but for the child.  They outlined the steps of the adoption process in a way that made us feel as if it was something we would be able to navigate.  They spoke very realistically about the wait time.  They explained that they have about 90 families waiting to adopt and that last year, they were able to adopt out 70 children.  They spoke about the wait time and how difficult it could be, but they also spoke about the support that couples are given as they wait.  By the end of the webinar, Carla and I were both filled with an excitement that we had not yet felt.  We loved the philosophy that the Cradle believes in.  Throughout the entire presentation ran a very child-centered message.  Everything that was said was said with the child in mind.  Every decision that is made, is made to ensure that the right child ends up with the right family.  Along the way, The Cradle seems to offer a plethora of support options.  There are support groups that run for families that are waiting to adopt and there are support groups and activities that are planned for families after they have completed an adoption.  It seems like the Cradle has worked hard to create a real community, one where families who are waiting to adopt and families who have already adopted feel as if they are a part of something bigger than just themselves.  This idea very much appealed to us.  The presentation that was given managed to inspire me, calm me, excited me and reassure me all at the same time.  We felt great and we were looking forward to the next meeting we had with the smaller of the two agencies that we were considering.

So today came that next meeting.  We had a thirty minute meeting with the executive director of the smaller agency.  We walked into the meeting feeling hopeful about the agency.  We had seen several pictures of same-sex couples on their website and we knew, based on the policies that we had seen on the website, that they were completely open to working with gay and lesbian couples.  We were also extremely impressed with the statistics that were posted on the website.  The wait times for this agency were significantly shorter than any other agency that we looked at, including the Cradle.  We were eager to meet face-to-face with someone from an agency and as we nervously rode the elevator up to their office we were anxious and excited.  We walked in and happily chatted with the receptionist as we looked at the hundreds of pictures of children hanging on the walls of the office.

And then the meeting began.  The woman that we met with instantly seemed cold and short.  She began by asking us how we ended up there and when we told her we were excited by the smaller feel of their agency, she quickly informed us that they were able to maintain that feeling because they capped the number of potential adoptive families at 40.  Since they already had 40 families that they were working with, we would be placed on a waiting list that we would have to wait on until a spot became available for us to wait some more to be picked by a birthmother.  I must confess that after this one statement, I was already skeptical.  I just couldn't see how limiting the pool of potential adopters could be in the best interest of the child.  The more we spoke with this woman, the more that I began to sense that for this agency, the best interest of the child did not seem to be the most important piece of the puzzle.  It seemed as if their primary concern was creating a short wait time for potential adopters and while this seems so tempting when starting the adoption process, after hearing about all the horribly long wait times, it just didn't feel right for this to be the motivating factor in the decision making.  After a while she spoke about the wait time for same-sex couples.  I did appreciate her honesty when she told us that in her experience, same-sex couples experienced a long wait-time.   However, she then went on to say that she believes that the only time a birthmother chooses a gay or lesbian couple is when they have someone close to them who is gay or lesbian.  I can't explain why exactly but this statement came off as extremely rude and insensitive and I began to shut down.

Luckily for me, Carla handles these things much better than I do and she continued to ask questions and speak politely with the woman.  When the woman said that they offered no support after the adoption was finalized, I was done.  That was all I needed to hear.  The process that she described seemed like one that was isolated and lonely.  The wonderful community that was described in the Cradle's presentation was nowhere to be found here.  In the middle of one of her answers, she informed us that we only had three minutes left and when she was done we stood up and walked out the door.

I am pretty sure that I began to make a face of disgust before we even left the office.  Carla managed to hold it until we made it into the hallway.  One of the things that I am most thankful for about our relationship is that we usually seem to be on the same page at the same time.  And that was certainly the case here. By the time the elevator made its way down to the first floor (and we had only been on the second floor) we had already discussed and decided that this place just wasn't for us.  A short wait time was nowhere near as compelling as the community that was created at the Cradle and the child-centered philosophy that rang through everything that the Cradle said.

And so, with that, our second decision has been made.  We will be beginning the adoption process with the Cradle.  When we are ready, the next step will be to fill out an application, pay the registration fee of $500 and have an initial consultation with our assigned counselor.  I have a feeling that this face-to-face meeting will be exponentially better than the one we had today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Words of Wisdom

It's been a while.  It feels nice to sit down and write down some of the thinking that's been going on.  Over the past ten days, I have had the true pleasure of talking with two different people in my life (and their significant others) who have been through the adoption process.  The words of wisdom that they had to share were invaluable.  What I took away, above all else, from the conversations that we had was the overwhelming positivity with which both of them spoke.  I had spent so much time reading book and book and each book was filled with more warnings than the one before.  I suppose that is the job of these books, to prepare potential adopters for the difficult road ahead.  And they certainly did their job.  I have been well exposed to all of the many stressful pieces of the adoption process, I am now well versed in all of the things that could go wrong, and I could recite by heart all of the difficult steps that we will face as we begin our journey.  But what these books seemed to be missing, or, more honestly, the parts of the books that I simply skipped over, were the parts that shared what made this all worthwhile.  And that is exactly what I found in the conversations I had with people who had been through the process.  

Neither of the couples that I spoke with had an "easy" adoption process.  They both had their long waits and even some false starts along the way.  Neither of the couples left those parts out of their story.  But what I found most amazing is that those parts were not the focus of our conversations.  Neither couple felt the need to warn us about what was going to happen nor the struggles we would face.  Instead, they both wanted to offer us helpful hints and most of all share the enthusiasm that they both had for the adoption process.  In a million different ways, these conversations made me feel much more positive about adoption in general and our journey in particular.  

One of the women I talked to was a good friend of one of my close friends and we met at our common friend's wedding.  We were both in the bridal party and we instantly hit it off.  When I told our common friend that Carla and I were planning to adopt, she instantly put us into contact with her friend who had recently been through the adoption process.  It was a brilliant idea.  We spoke on the phone last Saturday and it was such a helpful conversation.  She lives in California and used a facilitator to adopt, so some of the legal aspects were different from what they will be for us, but the conversation in general was beyond helpful.  

One of the best pieces of advice that she gave me was that we need to do the things that feel right to us.  One of the things we have really been struggling with is the idea of when to begin preparing for a baby.  When women get pregnant, they know they have nine months and then there will be a baby.  They know when they should paint the nursery, when they should buy the furniture, when to start buying clothes.  But when people begin the adoption process, you have no way of knowing when a baby will come.  Every book that I read said that you should not, for any reason, prepare a baby room until you are basically bringing the baby home.  The reasons they had for this advice made sense.  They said it would be a painful reminder of what wasn't there yet as you waited for an undefined amount of time or that it would be an unbearable sight to see if a birth mother changed her mind.  But, for us, something about that didn't feel right.  When I spoke with our friend who had been through the process she told me that the second their paperwork was all finished and they entered the adoption pool, she started to set up the baby's room.  She said that Carla and I just didn't seem like the type of people who would become weepy while looking at a baby's room.  And she is right.  That isn't us. And it also isn't us to not begin preparing for what we know will one day be coming. That's just not how we do things.  It was so nice to hear someone say, you know what feels right for you and that's what you should do.  

The next couple that we spoke with was a lesbian couple who adopted their son several years ago.  One of them is a coworker of mine and has already been an unbelievable resource for me during my coming out process at work.  And as soon as I reached out to her, she invited Carla and I over for dinner this past Wednesday to meet her son and talk with her partner and her about the whole process.  Again, they spoke with such positivity about the process.  One of the best parts of this conversation was that they went through one of the adoption agencies that we are thinking about using.  They had a wonderful experience and helped us to see a lot of the benefits of this agency without ever trying to sway us one way or another.  One of the nicest parts for me to hear was about all of the other people that they met through the agency.  It was nice to hear about the community feeling that they experienced through the agency.  It has become a place where they can go and be around other families that look like theirs and their son can see other families that look like them and not like them and begin to really learn that all families look different.  They spoke of the agency and of the people they have met and of what their son has brought to their lives in such an incredible way.  I can only hope that our family will one day share the kind of love that the three of them share.  It was an incredible evening and I left, once again, feeling so hopeful about the adoption process.  

Talking with people who have been through the adoption process has been so incredible and so helpful.  I am not always the first person to reach out to others.  It's just never really been the way I have done things, but I am so thankful that I have had such wonderful people to reach out to and they have all offered their help and support along the way.  I see the adoption process in a new way after this past week.  I see it in a more positive light, with more hope, and with more love than I ever saw it before.  

Next week, we will begin meeting with the two agencies and I am hoping that one will just feel right.  And then, my guess is, we will take some time to pause and enjoy the process of our wedding for a while before we take any further steps.  I feel really good about what we have learned so far and I am now looking forward to taking the next step.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Feeling the Love

I am completely overwhelmed.  Not because of my current group of students (though they are pushing me to my utmost limits of patience) and not because no matter how early I seem to get into work, I can't quite get myself ready for the day ahead, and not even because we have two weddings to plan before the end of October.  No, I am not overwhelmed in that kind of way.  I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of love that I have felt today.

Yesterday, I mentioned that Carla and I were going to be sharing our story on a fantastic website called "It's Conceivable."  As the blog post went up yesterday, I sent the link to my family so that they could check it out.  And because my sister is the most supportive sister in the world, she liked the blog on Facebook.  Before I knew it, I received an email from a close college friend who saw the blog on my sister's page and that is when I realized that now was the moment to tell all those closest to me about our plans before they came across it on Facebook!

And so, I quickly wrote some emails to some friends to share the big news and then pass them along to the blog.  And then, since the cat was most definitely out of the bag, Carla and I both posted the blog to our Facebook pages.  And so began all that overwhelmed me.

I have always known that I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the most amazing people.  When I came out, I never had to doubt that I would loose family or friends.  Every decision that I have made in my life has been completely supported by the amazing people who are around me.  However, sometimes it is easy to forget just how much love I am surrounded by.  As soon as people found out, there were just the most amazing words of excitement and support.  It continued throughout the day and I am now sitting here at the end of my day, simply in awe of the people in my life.

In this moment, I completely believe that no matter how hard things get as we start the adoption process and as we go through the many ups and downs that are ahead of us, there is going to be this amazing circle of friends and family who are just going to be there to carry us through.  So, if you are a part of that circle, then please know that I thank you.  With all of my heart.  Know that I am thankful to have such loving and amazing people surround me and I am so glad that I can begin to share all of this with you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Taking this show on the road

Exciting blogging news folks!  I'm so excited and honored to be a small part of an incredible website called, It's Conceivable.  This website is completely devoted to providing LGBT families who are looking to expand their family in some way with current and reliable resources on adoption, insemination, surrogacy, and parenting in general.  They have an entire section featuring different people who are in the process of adding a child to their families. Each person has a blog where he or she will tell his or her story and you can follow along on the journey.  Well, as of this morning, I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE! How exciting is that?

Yep, my blog is titled "Insert Baby Here." (Thank you Carla for the fantastic title!) You can find the blog by going to itsconceivablenow.com, clicking on the features tab on the top of the screen, selecting resources, and then scrolling to the last blog, "Insert Baby Here."  There you can find my first blog post! Or, for those of you who are more efficient than I am, you can simply go to:


I am going to continue blogging here on a more day-to-day basis, but will be posting on It's Conceivable each month.  I would love for you to check out the new blog and would also love if you took a moment to check out all that this website has to offer.

It is amazing to me that they wanted to hear our story.  It is amazing to me that anyone but us wants to hear our story.  To be able to share our story with others is truly an exhilarating thought.  I know that there are so many people out there who have gone through the adoption process or who are going through it now and the thought of being able to share our stories together is unbelievably appealing. Even more, I love the thought that one day we will have a child and we will be able to show him or her all of this evidence of how much love, planning, and desire went in to creating our family.  I love that we are creating an everlasting record of the journey we went through to bring our child into our lives.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Baby Cravings

Today I had a major case of baby cravings.  It started this morning.  Carla and I began our extra day off by taking our dog, Frankie, for a long walk that ended with Starbuck's and pumpkin scones.  It was perfectly fall-like outside today and it was a perfect walk. Amidst this perfection, I couldn't help but start to think about the future when we will be able to bring a little one along with us on these walks.  I picture Carla and I walking with Frankie, but in this image of the future we are each holding the hand of a little boy or girl.  It makes me smile to think about the three of us (plus Frankie) walking through the streets of our neighborhood on a morning walk.  It got to the point where Carla and I even began to discuss the formation we would have to be in with our one day child in order to keep Frankie happy (she only likes to be in the middle of the two of us on a walk).  And thus began today's baby cravings.

When we returned home from our walk with coffees in hand, we settled in to watch some t.v. before heading off to spend the day with my family.  I have no idea what was on t.v., but I clearly remember a commercial came on with a little girl and I said out loud, "I want a baby so badly!"  And I meant it. With all of my heart, I meant it.  You know, when we first made this decision, I have to be honest, there were still doubts lingering.  Every so often I thought, "Do I really want to do this?"  And slowly, over the past few weeks, I have become more and more sure of this decision.  And in this moment, watching some unknown blonde child on t.v., I really knew with all of my heart that I did want a baby so badly.

And then we were off to my parents house to spend the day with them, my sister, and my adorable four-month-old nephew, Noah.  My sister and I live about an hour away from each other and while I got to see Noah several times a week during the summer when I wasn't teaching, now that I am back at school, I don't get to see him nearly as often as I would like.  So, as always, I was incredibly excited to see him.  But today, it was different.  When I looked at him, and when I looked at my sister, all I could think about was the baby who would one day find its way to Carla and I.  I thought about the things we would do together and about being able to give Noah a cousin.  Again, it brought incredible happiness to my heart.

At the same time there was just a smidgen of sadness.  One of my sister's friends, who is pregnant, stopped by the house to see my sister and Noah.  While she was there she began discussing the painting that her husband was doing for the baby's room.  Carla and I gave each other a look, both of us thinking about the recent paint colors we had been thinking about for the room that will one day be a baby's room.  Yes it's true, our extra bedroom currently has several different patches of yellow painted across the walls (another one of those things I am slightly embarrassed that we have done, but we have done anyway).  And while we wanted to join in the discussion of paint colors and decorating, we didn't feel like we could since we hadn't brought up the fact that we wanted to adopt to my sister's friend.  It didn't feel like the right time and so we just sat quietly.  I know that one day it will be different.  One day, when we have gotten further along in the process, it will come up more naturally.  But for now, it is a little sad to stay quiet.

But in our quiet, I take comfort knowing that Carla and I share this exciting secret (well with our families, several of our friends, some of our coworkers, and whoever happens to be reading this).  I take comfort in being so sure of our decision and I take comfort in knowing that soon we will be able to truly start this process that will bring us the child of our dreams.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Deciding who to tell and when

I have always thought it odd when friends of mine have told me when they decided to start "trying" to have a kid. In a way it always seemed like they were just telling me that they were deciding to have unprotected sex, and that was never something that I thought I should be privy to.  But, like many things that I thought I knew, I am now realizing why people chose to tell me when they made the decision to try to have a child.

In many ways, I feel like our decision to begin the adoption process is like many couples' decision to start trying to have a baby.  For some couples, this decision comes just a few months before they are able to share news of a pregnancy.  For others, it can be years.  Taking the risk of telling people you are trying to conceive means knowing that people will be asking for months about how it is going.  When things work out well, that isn't a big deal.  But, I can only imagine that when you end up having to try for years, the constant questioning can be frustrating and even heartbreaking.

And so, our decision to tell people that we are planning to adopt a child, risks many of the same things.  In a lot of ways, I think that was part of my motivation in starting this blog.  Once we begin our wait, it will be nice that I will have a place where people can find updates on our journey so that I do not have to worry about sharing any heartbreaking news over and over again, face to face.  This is never something I have been good at doing and the thought of having to do it for many many months makes me nervous.

Right now, our decision has been shared with the people closest to us (and those of you who have found your way to this little blog of mine).  It has been so wonderful to see the reaction that people have had.  At first, I was afraid to tell people because I knew the response would involve some, "I told you you would want kids someday." But, I quickly learned that this reaction didn't bother me because most often, what came next was such incredible excitement for what we were about to do.  And I quickly saw that the risk of telling people our decision was far outweighed by the support that I found in people.  I know that this journey is going to be a long one and I now know that I am going to need these people in my life to be there right along with me every step of the way.  Carla and I are going to need lots of love, encouragement, and support and I am so thankful that we have so many people in our lives who are willing to provide just that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A new answer to an old question

As is evident from the number of days since I have last blogged, going back to school has somewhat consumed my life.  I try never to complain about going back to school in the fall since I know that we, as teachers, are incredibly lucky to even have a summer break.  But truly, nothing in my life is quite as exhausting as the first few weeks back at school (at least until a baby enters our lives).  Since most of my time this week has been spent at school, it is only natural that the inspiration for this blog post occurred while I was at school.

At the end of one these past few days, I was walking down the hallway towards the office.  I was stopped by a good friend of mine, another teacher, who wanted to tell me about a Dateline that she saw the night before on transgendered children.  As the token gay teacher, I often get to hear about such things.  We were then chatting for a while about how our students really needed more education on gay and lesbian issues, including gay and lesbian parents.  During the discussion, she stopped and asked me if Carla and I were planning on having children.

The question caused me to pause for a few seconds.  For so many years, my automatic response to that question was, "No."  And since the answer has changed for Carla and I in our own minds, we have been careful about who we have told.  We know the road ahead of us is going to be a long one and filled with a whole lot of ups and downs and we just haven't been sure when we should tell the people around us.  So for a lot of people in my life, they are still under the belief that Carla and I don't plan on having children.

So here I was, standing in the hallway of the elementary school I work in, being asked if we are planning on having children.  And for the first time in my life, I could confidently respond, that yes, we do want to have children and yes, we are planning on beginning the adoption process after our wedding.  All of a sudden, I had this brand new answer to a question that I have answered a million times.  But it felt right.  It felt good.  It was strange to me how not strange it really felt.

And so we talked for a few minutes about what had been going on in our quest to learn more about adoption and then I walked away with a huge smile on my face.  It felt good to talk about with another person and it felt good to know that I was so sure of our decision.  So now I look forward to the next time that someone asks if we are planning on having children.  I look forward to being able to answer, "Yes. And we are planning to adopt."