The First “Baby Step”

Now that we have decided who we would like to work with, we will take the first big step. We attended a two day adoption workshop. We were lucky that we decided when we did. They are held every three months or so, and it was just weeks until the next workshop. We were also lucky that there was room for us in that session.

On the first day of the workshop we arrived early and walked into the room. The air in the room felt heavy. It was an atmosphere that felt thick with emotions. A cocktail of nervousness, anticipation, longing, fear, a hint desperation, and other undefinable emotions that charge the air. But mostly there is hope. There is also an undeniable feeling of competition with the other couples in attendance. We’re only human and we can’t help looking around to size up our competition. Look at that couple. They look so happy to be here. It’s their latest hope and they are ready to start. But that couple doesn’t look too thrilled about it. They had to take time off from work and travel from another part of the state for this. That couple is wearing despair like a mantle that weighs down their shoulders until they slump. It’s been three years since they started and the one birth mother that chose them changed their mind five days after they took the baby home. What do we seem like to them?

The first day is filled with information. In the middle of our table is a huge binder of things to read. We begin to learn the terminology of adoption. Learning the sensitive way to say things. After all, adoption is a process that is fraught with enough emotions without insensitive words heightening them. We learn what it means to have an open adoption, as opposed to a closed adoption. How open is too open for you? What are the effects of alcohol and drugs when used during pregnancy? How comfortable are you with alcohol or drug use after watching videos of babies detoxing and seeing the after effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? The first day is scary and emotional. After that we can’t help wondering, do we really want to do this?

We came back on day two for a host of panels. Where day one left us with apprehension, day two immediately showed us the reason for being here in best possible way. The first panel is comprised of three couples who are successful adoptive parents. One of those couples is holding a newborn baby boy with cheeks so chubby I want to go up and touch them. This woman is holding her new son and is radiant the with joy of it all. These couples have stories to share and answer questions for all of us. Yes, this is not easy. Yes, there can be bumps along the way. Yes, it is completely worth it if you have the strength to take the journey.

Then we hear from people who were adopted. They were a product of a closed adoption where they didn’t know anything about their birth families until they were grown. The thing I am left with from this panel is how much better open adoption is for the adopted child and the birth families. Not all birth families want this. But knowing where your child is and that they are happy can make their lives and the lives of their children so much better. Open adoption is something I’m glad we have a chance to be a part of after this panel.

After that there is a panel made up of birth mothers. Both of them had worked with Catholic Social Services and talked about their open adoption experience. We heard from a mother who had her baby many years ago, and one young girl who was less than six months after the birth of her baby. Of all the things we had seen, and the stories we had heard, this was the panel that made me teary. Such pain. Such love. Such grief. But with along with the sadness, they talked about being glad to know that their children were doing well and were very loved.

At the end of the second day, and hearing more on the legal aspect of the process, there is a two week period to reflect and decide if this is the path for our family. Right now, for us, there is another week to wait before we can continue.  We need to finish reading all of the information in the thick binder. There are conversations to have and personal discoveries yet to be made.

To be continued…

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Plotting the course

Choosing adoption is not a snap decision. It is often a point arrived at after strife. After pain. Sometimes even peril. Just arriving at that point, the decision to adopt, is an expedition of its own. By the time most travelers get to the end of that part of the journey, at the fork of adoption, they are already tired and hurting. They’ve tried so many other paths that sometimes they are just lost. Adoption. A new path. A new hope. I’m not saying this is how everyone finds themselves at the path of adoption. But it is certainly how our journey has come to be.

We are the Patricks. My name is Deb and my husband is Mark. Our family began when we married in August 2007. We were very fortunate to be blessed with a daughter in June 2008. She is our world. We didn’t know that our dear girl was a miracle until she was two years old. We had been trying for another child for over a year. We were told that ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) was our best hope. This is not a procedure that is widely available in Alaska. There is a doctor. Just one doctor in the state that we could find who does this procedure. A doctor who happens to know how. But there are no fertility doctors in our great state. Certainly no dedicated clinics! Most folks travel to what we call the Lower 48 for anything like that. Well, guess what? We’re not made of money. And the odds of conceiving were too great. So, for us, that path was off the table.

We kept trying and hoping for the next five years while considering adoption along the way. But our daughter was never interested in having a sibling. She would get unreasonable at the suggestion! That with the cost of adoption made it feel like the wrong fit. And so, we grieved our fertility difficulties. We grieved for the loss of the idea of a big house full of children. We grieved for every month when another miracle didn’t come. We learned to be happy for the others around us that had families that grew exponentially while we failed. Every baby is a blessing. We learned to count the blessings that had bestowed upon us. We are happy with our family of three.

Then in early December of 2014 something made me ask the question again. Do we want another child added to our family through adoption? Husband said yes! Then came the toughest critic. I was mentally wringing my hands as I asked our 6 year old daughter what she thought. She said yes! SHE SAID YES! Now here we are, feeling elated at the prospect. Yay! … Umm, now what?

To the Internet! Oh my WOW. I still didn’t know what to do. There is a wealth of sites devoted to adoption. It is a sea of information and I am drowning in it! I am still lost. So husband and I decide to start local. We decide that we would like an infant. We decide to start with the Catholic Social Services infant adoption program. The course for our adoption expedition is beginning to take shape.

To be continued…image