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.