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Confirmation of Uncommonness

mother, baby

We had our first home-study session for adoption yesterday.

Contrary to what we’ve all seen on television — a social worker shows up to a home unannounced on the day the vacuum broke and the neighbour’s kids trashed the place and the dog’s vomiting and there’s Fruit Loops everywhere and one of said neighbour’s kids has a black eye from walking into a doorknob and your hair hasn’t been brushed in three days because you had the plague and you curse profoundly when you open the door — well, it’s not like that in reality.

People keep assuring us it’ll be fine, and nobody seems to believe me when I tell them we aren’t worried.

In reality, the tough parts – the part of judging – is pretty much over. The agency has already read our references, criminal background checks and doctor’s assessments. We’ve already sat through the four days of mandatory workshops. The home study is a series of discussions during which our social worker gets to know us, and upon which she bases her write-up. The write-up is what a woman looking to place her infant for adoption sees when she’s choosing a family. Sure, something might come up that gives the social worker pause, but we’re not actually concerned we won’t be approved to adopt.

The session yesterday took place at our home (which we did not feverishly scrub down in a panicked frenzy), and it was relaxed. Cleo played her part perfectly, except for her timely flatulence. At least we weren’t flatulent.

I get the impression there’s stricter regulation of adoption in B.C. (and possibly all of Canada) than there is in the U.S. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

In B.C., there are no private adoptions; all adoptions are arranged through one of six agencies. We don’t prepare a dossier ourselves; the social worker prepares it. There’s no exchange of goods or money between the chosen adoptive parents and the pregnant woman – no paying of medical bills (which in Canada isn’t an issue anyway), no paying rent, etc. This absence of the exchange of money is what makes me comfortable adopting. There’s a lot of room for ethical disaster when money and children are transacted, and it’s very, very important to us that every party to this adoption is acting in the best interest of the child and in the best interest of a happy and healthy life for everyone involved.

Anyway. During each of the handful of home-study sessions we’ll have, we’ll cover different topics. Our childhood experiences, schooling, work life, religious and spiritual beliefs, parenting philosophies, home life, etc.

Yesterday we just got to know each other and we talked about how we came to decide to adopt. During the conversation, the social worker asked me what my experience with infertility was like, and I described the physical trauma and the emotional stress. She asked how I felt over the years as I’ve watched my friends get pregnant, and I told her that aside from one isolated pang of jealousy, I’ve felt only happiness for them.

This is the truth. I’ve wanted to adopt since I was a teenager. I don’t feel a burning need to procreate. I’ve always assumed I was an outlier for this. And yesterday, the social worker confirmed it. She told me it’s extremely uncommon for a woman not to really grieve through infertility.

And you know, it’s pretty sweet to be told by an experienced professional that I really am different. It’s certainly why I find pretty much all the adoption blogs I’ve come across to be unsatisfying to read. I mean, there are other reasons to find them unsatisfying. Some are terribly written. Many are a lot about god. Most are about a burning need to have kids.

But I just want to have kids. I want to have a bigger family. I want to show a child the world and I want to nurture them and work hard to make them happy.

And I’m okay not getting what I want.

Which doesn’t mean I’m not crazy excited about adopting. All it means is that I don’t relate to the desperation I know so many people feel. I respect and appreciate it, but I don’t share it. I’m a little on my own, which I don’t mind. On my own, I mean, with my understanding and supportive partner, with our wildly enthusiastic friends and family, and soon, I hope, with a daughter or a son.

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jmclain6

Love the blog. We have adopted once through an agency and are waiting on our approval to be foster/foster to adopt family with our state. The reason we chose this method was the expense of adoption. We feel your pain :) Best of luck

Justine

Kim, thanks for writing this. I think a growing number of women are aware that they are not *driven* to procreate or to adopt, but it's a difficult conversation to have when it seems like so many other women are driven in a way that some of us find hard to understand or relate to fully. And because it's such an emotionally invested topic, that makes it all that much harder to talk about without inadvertent hurt feelings or enormous misunderstandings or the simple frustration of talking past each other instead of to each other.
I wish you and your family, whatever form it takes, the best.

julia

I never had that urge to procreate either, but I didn't want to grow old without a family either. So we went for it. And it was only once I had my son, I realized that this is the best thing ever, and then I totally turned into the over protective “mother hen”. :) And I am sure it would have been very similar had I adopted.
I hope you get a cute one! :p

LisaBurrito

It's fantastic to read your words on this because I feel very much the same way, and like Justine says – it's not an easy conversation to have when the majority of women (?) feel so very strongly about their NEED to have children. I'm still in the no-kids camp for now, but if I ever venture out, it wouldn't be to have my own, it would be to adopt…. and I always thought the adoption process would frown on me for that for some reason – like if I didn't have a burning desire for kids that I would be rejected. So it's good to know that's not the case!

Anyway, Yay for being different!

Lara

I'm another woman who didn't ever have a huge need or drive to have children. Deciding whether to try to conceive was a huge dilemma. However, I am absolutely thrilled with the two that I've been lucky enough to have – I love them more than I'd ever thought possible. Best of luck with your adoption.

Rebekah

I just wanted to delurk and say good luck with your adoption – your attitude toward the entire thing is so inspiring. I'm another who has always felt I'd be just fine either way, with or without children, so it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Dawn E

Kim, as usual, you are a font of clarity. I love hearing you talk about this with such open honesty. It's something that I think women need to do more of. We so often resort to what we think people want to hear, afraid to make either party uncomfortable with the truth. I believe that in reality, we have much more common ground and are in fact surrounded by people that can at least empathize with, if not deeply sympathize with, our positions.

So, kudos to you for once again blazing your own trail. (…and every happiness as you move through this process) You're raising the level of dialog for us all.

ncavillones

Good luck with your adoption! I've made it a policy not to discuss fertility issues with people because I know that my feelings on IVF are not popular, and I'm a big proponent of adoption for people that can't conceive on their own. That certainly would've been my path, anyway, if I found myself in the infertility camp. I find your view refreshing.
After all, it's not the carrying and giving birth that makes a parent, but the actual bringing up of a person. I'm looking forward to following your journey!

Ann Marie

And Kim, you will keep blazing your own trail, believe me! During the whole adoption process, ours is similar to what you relate, I just wish they had focused more on the internal trauma the baby goes through, which is completely unapparent and may not reveal itself until the child grows older. My son's birth parents were 15 and 16 and he is approaching that age now. It's clear to me there are strong genetic links that emerge in his behavior and unresolved emotional issues that stem from possibly before he was born. He clearly loves us and always has, but he feels like an outlier himself at times, not totally understanding or accepting the fact of adoption as part of his life story. While there are tons of kids who are adopted now, he has suffered from kids taunting him about being “adopted” in a perjorative sense. Find out as much as you can about his birth parents because that information may be helpful to you far into the future. Good luck!!! We are blessed with our son and I can't imagine our family without him!

LKManville

Kim,
My sister-in-law, Dawn, passed along your blog. You are a voice of reason in so much of what I've read! We adopted our daughter, Sara, internationally 4 years ago through a US agency. I was uncomfortable with private domestic adoption partly because of the exchange of money.
It sounds like there's a much more transparent process in Canada.
I also had similar reactions to infertility. I wanted to adopt for a long time and married a man with no issues about passing on his genetics. We decided to try for a bio child first and when I didn't get pregnant, I remember feelings of surprise. When my infertility was diagnosed, my feeling was overwhelming relief that I could move on to the next step.
Should we decide to have a second child, it will be through the US foster system, as my only other negative feeling is occasional irritation that for me, other types of adoption mean a huge financial expense.
I'll be following your blog and good luck on the rest of the process.

MelissaFG

I think part of the issue is that our generation was taught that girls can be scientists, mathematicians, lawyers, crochet/crafty-types, etc., but we also should also aspire for the pie in the sky that is getting married and having kids. Somehow, growing up in the '80s, we had this weird juxtaposition of being progressive and career-oriented with still maintaining the June Cleaver values that our grandmothers taught our moms.

I know that in the community where I (we) grew up, I was under the impression that having kids is just what you do. For me, I always knew that I wanted to have kids – the house with the picket fence in the 'burbs, etc. It was what I genuinely wanted. I don't recall ever not wanting that. But, it's not for everyone… and that's okay.

I know you would be great parents and I hope that a child (or children) has the benefit of learning from you and receiving the gifts that you have to offer… but I also know that you always find ways to make your life fulfilling. You're happy in your life, right? A child would definitely add to that happiness and give you a whole new dimension – but, I know that you will continue to find happiness in lots of ways, regardless of how the adoption process works out.

I just hope your happiness doesn't involve June Cleaver pearls and aprons (but, you know, if it does, I support that).

MelissaFG

I will acknowledge that your mom may be a little more Lucille Ball than June Cleaver… but, I think you are the product of a lot of traditional values nonetheless (even if expressed in nontraditional ways). Not a bad thing, either way… just my observation.

Regardless, though, I give you credit for swimming upstream in a downstream world. It's not only our community's values, but also in large part what we see on TV, read on blogs, etc. that contribute. I think it's not easy to (a) realize that your needs/wants are different from what society expects, and (b) act on that realization without fear of judgment.

kendra

yet another reason to love canada. taking money out of the equation is huge. wishing all the best for your family!!!

margaretnieman

Kim, I was excited to hear about your adoption plans. I have a 16 year old daughter from China who is the joy of our lives. Our homestudy so many years ago was pretty calm, although a thunderstorm did cause the power to go out and we were interviewed by candlelight.
It is interesting to learn of the differences in the process between Canada and the US. Best wishes for the adventures to come.

Trena

Hey, good luck with the adoption! And way to go with the down to earth place you're living in. I think when we put too much, or invest too much of ourselves in any one place, we are often disappointed when it doesn't live up to our expectations, you know what I mean? Be it friends lovers or babies…..Sounds like you'll make a great Momma:)
And oh yeah, the aprons?? I just found some amazing vintage 50's aprons….they are made out of chiffon for love of god! Completely useless…but I'll definitely be sporting one at my next dinner party!

Robin

I, too, had to deal with the “You are going to have a tough time having babies of your own” diagnosis. So coming from a large family who's women could get pregnant just from the proverbial “gleam in a young man's eye”, it was at first a tough pill to swallow. So I delayed the whole baby thing until I was in my mid 30's. After 2 rounds of very expensive and painful IVF cycles and no baby – I was 38 at the time, we decided to adopt.

Long story, short, we got through the process(twice!) and have 2 boys – brothers – adopted at birth – at Mom's request we got to be present for each birth – absolutely amazing! These children were immediately and lovingly accepted into both of our families the second we brought them home. They are happy and healthy and very loved. My husband and I know they are the children we were always meant to have. They could not be more “ours”. They even look like us.

And while the American process may not be pretty from a moralistic viewpoint ($), I cannot bear to think about where our boys would be had they not been adopted and had to stay in the environment they surely would have been brought up in had their birth mother kept them. She was also keenly aware of this and voiced it on more than one occasion.

So, best wishes for a smooth adoption, a beautiful baby…preferably one that sleeps all night…and a wonderful fun filled life with children. Oh, my kids love to see me wear an apron when I cook or when I work in the garden…their favorite is the one with the red one with ruffles…go figure!

Robin

I, too, had to deal with the “You are going to have a tough time having babies of your own” diagnosis. So coming from a large family who's women could get pregnant just from the proverbial “gleam in a young man's eye”, it was at first a tough pill to swallow. So I delayed the whole baby thing until I was in my mid 30's. After 2 rounds of very expensive and painful IVF cycles and no baby – I was 38 at the time, we decided to adopt.

Long story, short, we got through the process(twice!) and have 2 boys – brothers – adopted at birth – at Mom's request we got to be present for each birth – absolutely amazing! These children were immediately and lovingly accepted into both of our families the second we brought them home. They are happy and healthy and very loved. My husband and I know they are the children we were always meant to have. They could not be more “ours”. They even look like us.

And while the American process may not be pretty from a moralistic viewpoint ($), I cannot bear to think about where our boys would be had they not been adopted and had to stay in the environment they surely would have been brought up in had their birth mother kept them. She was also keenly aware of this and voiced it on more than one occasion.

So, best wishes for a smooth adoption, a beautiful baby…preferably one that sleeps all night…and a wonderful fun filled life with children. Oh, my kids love to see me wear an apron when I cook or when I work in the garden…their favorite is the one with the red one with ruffles…go figure!

Monica (aka monnibo)

Too bad all parents (even the procreatin' kind) didn't have to take mandatory classes. That would make the world a lot better.

Monica (aka monnibo)

Too bad all parents (even the procreatin' kind) didn't have to take mandatory classes. That would make the world a lot better.

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