Anyone can tell by looking at our family that Jonah is adopted and I believe that makes it easy for interested people to ask me questions about how we came to be a family. I have made new friends and reconnected with friends with whom I’ve been long out of contact through my willingness to discuss Jonah’s adoption. It’s such a joyful fact of my life that I’m thrilled for the opportunity to talk about it. Little did I know before Jonah was born, many women around me are going through infertility issues or are interested in growing their families through adoption for one reason or another. The process seems mysterious and intimidating to someone who hasn’t gone through it before and I’m so happy to encourage would-be parents to learn more about the process. Our lives are vastly richer because we are Jonah’s parents and I am more than happy to help other families find their riches too.
Every conversation I’ve had with women interested in adoption has been different because everyone’s circumstances are different. However, there has been some overlap on some basic themes – I’ll go through some of them below:
How old was Jonah when you adopted him?
Jonah has been our baby since his very first breath. His birth-mom allowed me to be in the operating room holding her hand when he was delivered via C-section. The nurse took him out of the womb, wrapped him in a towel, and placed him in my arms. He left the hospital with us when he and his birth-mom were discharged three days later and he has always been ours. We finalized the adoption when he was seven months old.
Was there a lot of paperwork?
You wouldn’t believe the amount of paperwork: forms, questionnaires, medical records, financial records, diagrams of your home, fingerprints for background checks, life history, family tree…there is no aspect of your life that will remain private if you choose to go through an adoption home study. The sheer volume of paperwork can be overwhelming and it took us a long time to work up the nerve to get started. The only way to do it, though, is to just start filling it out, one page at a time.
I would do it all over again in an instant and I believe that the next time (if there is a next time) it won’t take us as long to complete the paperwork just because we won’t be intimidated by it.
Did the process take a long time?
It felt like an eternity because of how badly we wanted a baby and because we’d already been dealing with infertility for over two years, plus another five months of infertility treatments. And it took us a long time to get our home study started because, like I said above, the amount of paperwork scared us.
However, once we got started in real time, it took us about a month to complete the home study and about fifteen months later, we had Jonah. The key for us was finding the right adoption agency: we started with one adoption agency that didn’t care for very many birth-moms each year and we never got a match with that agency. Once we signed on with Family to Family, it had been only five months when Jonah’s birth-mom contacted us and Jonah was born just three months after that.
How did you get started? Did you work with an agency?
The first thing that you have to do is to complete an adoption home study. We contacted an agency local to us that provides home studies, but that does not actually place children with families. A licensed social worker conducted the home study, interviewed my husband and me together and then separately, and interviewed some of our friends to complete the picture. She also guided us through options available to us and helped us determine what was right for us in the process. She is the person who helped us find both of the child placement agencies with which we worked.
Do you keep in touch with his birth-mom?
Jonah’s birth-mom told us before Jonah was even born that she would not want photos or updates from us. She has three children older than Jonah and placing him for adoption was the only way that she could see to be able to care for those kids. It was a very painful decision for her but one that she never backed away from. She told me that it would be too difficult for her to see and hear about Jonah and that she felt that she needed to look to the future with her kids. She told me that she might be open to meeting him one day, many years from now.
I promised her that we will regularly send letters and photos to the agency and that if she ever changes her mind, she can check in there. As far as I know, she has not done so. I would love to hear from her and I want her to know how wonderful, amazing, brilliant, and handsome our boy is. Hopefully she’ll be able to contact us some day.
Every adoptive family’s story is different and there’s even much more to our story than I’ve written here. The topics above are what have come up most in my conversations with other people exploring adoption, though there are other issues too. If you have any questions about our experiences, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org ) – I’ll be happy to talk with you.
Written by Kate Finkelstein, adoptive mother