Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Finding My Place

One of the hardest parts of being at this stage in my life is feeling like I don't have a place where I really belong. I'm in between worlds right now. I'm not TTC. I'm not choosing to live childfree. I'm not an adoptive parent-yet. And even though I am expecting in a way, I don't fit in with those who are pregnant after infertility. We've come through infertility with different scars, different wounds. For the past two years, as I've been dealing with my journey through infertility to adoption, I've benefited from the generous support of amazing women on online infertility message boards. But as our paths diverge, I feel more and more out of place there. Unfortunately, so far I haven't found that type of connection with those in my situation of adopting from foster care. Many of the adoption boards I have seen focus on those who are already parenting. Or they're specific to international adoption or domestic newborn adoption, which can be quite different than adopting from foster care, at least at the beginning. I know once we're placed with a child, there will be more support options, more connections. But right now I'm feeling a bit lost. I have started forming real life connections with others in my MA.PP classes. My hope is that those connections will grow over the next few months as our homestudy is completed and we begin to wait. I'll admit that this real life thing is new for me. It's taking some getting used to talking about my worries and anticipation face to face.

My underlying worry is that this sense of not quite fitting in will never go away, even after I become a parent. Am I always going to feel uncomfortable or disconnected unless I'm with other adoptive parents? Will I be accepted and will I accept myself as a real parent? Am I always going to have the word adoptive attached to my description when others talk about me? What do I say when other mothers start talking about childbirth? What about when they reminisce about their child's first steps or first words, which I likely won't have witnessed in my child? How do I answer when they ask how I chose my child's name when I probably didn't have a choice? Of course the even bigger more important question is, if I feel like this, how can my child begin to feel comfortable with himself and his place in the world?

I don't doubt myself and our choice of adoption because I'm struggling to find my place or because I'm questioning what the future will look like. I know my questions aren't unique. Adoption can be a minefield of questions about identity and fitting in, about relationships and the definition of family, about rejection and conection. I just hope that I have the ability to find answers that work for me, DH, and our child.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Adopt

I'm back. I'm sorry I've been gone so long. I don't really have a good excuse. I could say that I've been busy with school starting, busy with our adoption classes, busy with filling out the couple's profile, busy, busy, busy.  But really, it's just been hard to write lately. 

I guess I should start by saying that our adoption classes are going well.  I don't exactly look forward to spending 3 hours every Monday night in a windowless, stuffy room at Social Services hearing about sexual abuse, causes of fire starting behavior, and how to deal with bedwetting, but I know it will help us in the long run.  Luckily, the other people in the class are a cool bunch.  Out of eight couples in the class, more than half have dealt with infertility.  Two are same-sex couples.  There is one single woman.  I actually get to laugh a fair amount. With some of the material that's being covered, if I couldn't laugh, I'd have to cry. 

Our seventh class is this week, so one more to go.  DH and I are trying to get our 35-page profile questionnaire completed before then.  I'm embarrassed to say that I think we're the last ones in class to get it done.  It's not an easy task, as it's full of gems like, "What do you like most and least about each other? How do you show respect for each other's differences? Give examples." and "Describe the defining moments in your childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Give examples.  How have these moments impacted your views of parenting?"  There are many, many more questions, all with multiple parts.  And with my tendency to reflect and elaborate, I'm writing far too much for each one.  The 35-page profile is quickly gaining pages.  

However, my diarrhea of the keyboard may be necessary to counteract DH's brevity.  He has a horrible relationship with his family and is having a hard time writing about it. He's resorted to answers like "None" and "N/A".  I've tried to explain to him that "None" is not an acceptable answer to, "Describe your current relationship with your parents."  The social worker is going to expect more information.  I think he's slowly coming around.  I hope he's coming around. He'd better be coming around. 

Once the profile is handed in, we'll be assigned a social worker.  That person will schedule 2-4 home visits/interviews with us.  We'll also need to complete a Physical/Emotional/Behavioral Needs sheet.  We basically need to say what kind of tough stuff can we think we can deal with in a child we adopt.  When that's done, our worker will use the information from the home visit and the profile to write our homestudy.  Oh, we'll also need to get our fingerprints done.  That's a brand new requirement in our state. The timeline we're being given right now is that our homestudy might be done by the end of January/beginning of February.  Then we wait for a placement. 

Since we sent in our initial application to adopt in February of this year, that means we'll be just about a year into the process before our waiting even begins. If anyone ever again in my presence says, "Just adopt," I will hit him over the head with my 35-page. . .45-page. . .OK, 80-page profile.  That should knock some sense into him.