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…