A family of three becomes a family of four through transracial adoption.
PART 1 of 5: Getting my “House” In Order
I must admit that when my wife first suggested we adopt I wasn’t sure if I was up for it. We already had our daughter but we wanted another and circumstances were such that this was probably the only way. The question I kept asking myself was “Could I love a child that wasn’t my own?” Sure there are lots of options to conceive children but most of them are rather expensive, often taking emotional and physical tolls, and there are still no guarantees. Plus we figured, if we’re going to go through all the trouble, why not do something that will help someone else out? Sometimes when God closes a door he opens a window. So I took the first of what would be several leaps of faith.
We chose to adopt through the county, in part because we wanted to make a difference in someone’s life close to home. But also because, aside from the time commitment, it is almost entirely FREE! So before you adopt you have to become a foster family. This is mostly a technicality. This enables them to place a child in your home while you wait for the adoption process to run its course. Typically, from the time a placement is made it takes about 18 months to finalize the adoption with the county.
To become a foster family is something like getting a highly personal audit from the IRS. They want to know just about everything about you which stands to reason. I mean, c’mon! They’re giving you a kid! Still, get ready for lots of personal questions, paperwork, doctor visits, paperwork, legal questions, paperwork, and inspections. My favorite was when they came to the house and saw toothpaste laying out by the sink. Did you know that toothpaste is marked to keep out of the reach of children? As if they’re so eager to try it!
The other funny thing about adopting through the county is that you never know when your child is going to come. Like a typical pregnancy you prepare the house for the coming child. There are child locks on all the important cabinets. There are bumpers on all the sharp furniture. We even had to get a lockbox to store any pharmaceuticals securely in the refrigerator. But unlike a regular pregnancy when you pretty much know when a child will arrive within a plus or minus two week window, we had a room with an empty crib sitting for months just waiting to be filled.
We also had to take several weeks of MAPP classes. These are uber-parenting classes to prepare you for the adoption process and raising adopted kids. I really learned a lot but I especially learned to be more sympathetic for the parents that lose their children. It’s easy to villainize them for what they’ve done but you know, oftentimes they were victims themselves at one point in time.
One important lesson I learned was never to speak ill of the birth parents because this teaches children to disassociate or disconnect from people. And odds are, they are already well on their way to learning that lesson. Rather, we need to teach our children how to make connections with people. It is these connections that are healthy and pull us through the tough times.
I’m not sure if I would have ever learned that lesson if it wasn’t for deciding to adopt. What started out as a leap into the great unknown was already starting to pay off. Would I be ready for what would happen next?