A family of three becomes a family of four through transracial adoption.
PART 2 of 5: Getting the Call
We didn’t set out to transracially adopt. In fact, quite the opposite. When you apply for adoption they give you a form with boxes to check to indicate what you’re looking for. They give options such as age, gender, and even what disabilities or medical history you are willing to accept (such as depression or deafness). Of course, they also include race. This is no guarantee that this is the kid they will offer. Their goal is to find a child as close to what you want as they can. They’re not interested in just dumping children on people. But you also have to understand that the more restrictive your options the longer a placement will take.
Still, if given a choice why not take it? So we decided to have a boy because we already had a girl. We wanted age 1 (which means ups to 23 months) because our daughter was age 5 and because we wanted to maintain birth order and age difference. And finally we wanted a white or Latino baby because that is our background and we felt most comfortable raising the same. I don’t know that the statistics are, but I think most people are interested in adopting a similar race. I don’t think there are any official statistics on transracial adoption. I remember visiting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website and they estimated the transracial adoption rate at 14% but that was decades ago! So I’m sure it’s higher now, especially with the rate of international adoptions made popular by a few high profile celebrities.
Anyway, every prospective parent knows the anticipation that comes with “waiting for the call.” And it can come at any time! Our first call (yes, there was more than one) came while I was at work on a Friday. We had about 10 minutes to decide and I’m not kidding. Actually, the rush is just to place the child in your home. There is plenty of time to decide if you want to keep the child or if the child will even be available for permanent placement. Unfortunately for us, but fortunate for the child, a grandmother came forward and accepted the child. So it was back into the pool for a few more months.
The second call came in the middle of the day again. They told us the child was a boy, three weeks old and mixed black and white. They asked us to come in the next day. I swear after all the work to get to this point, and all the waiting, it really didn’t matter what race he was or the circumstances of his birth. Only that he was happy and healthy. We were the second couple they called, actually. The first couple changed their mind at the last moment. They left behind a car seat I suppose as some sort of guilt offering. We already had one, but we took it anyway.
When we came to see him in the NICU, all alone, with no one to really care for him but the nurses that fed him and occasionally rocked him there was nothing more to say. Not that the nurses were bad. It’s just not what they are there for! When you’re all alone, and no one is in your corner, you don’t stand a chance in this big mean world. Here in our hands was someone that didn’t ask to be brought into this world, but here he was. He was so small, so fragile. We wanted him and he wanted someone to want him. And so he became ours and has been with us ever since.
By Thomas Lopez