Family Building, Week 1

For the new year, we start at the beginning. This month’s posts focus on questions like:

  • What made you decide to have kids?
  • Did you have any criteria for what kind of kid you wanted, and why?
  • How did you decide on your process (adoption, surrogacy, etc.)?
  • What memorable moments occurred during your process, good or bad?

To get things started, here’s an excerpt from Magic Lessons describing my experience in choosing my fost-adopt agency:

Unless you’re doing what’s called a family adoption—taking your niece, nephew, or other relative, or possibly a friend’s kid—adopting older means taking kids who are already in the foster system. To do this, you have two options: working directly with your county Social Services agency, or going through a private agency that specializes in “special needs” adoptions (more on that lovely term later).

I avoided going directly through the county, because I heard horror stories of how overworked the social workers are and how slowly the process moves—people waiting two, three years just to get to the point of looking at potential kids. The joke was on me when another couple I know, who started their process about the same time as I and did go through the county, finalized the adoption with their first son a good six months earlier than mine. So much for conventional wisdom.

In my county-avoiding way, I began attending information sessions for different private adoption agencies in the area. The good news: Pretty much every agency holds such a session, where you can learn the ins and outs of how they operate. The bad: Being me, I felt obligated to attend all of them, which meant hearing pretty much the same thing over and over to the usually large crowd. (Shout out to the good-hearted folks of the East Bay!) Each time, I patiently sat through the spiel: “We love you! We need you! You’re great! We’re great!”

And then I asked my two big questions:

Me: Do you work with single parents?

Me Again: Do you work with LGBTQ parents? (Full disclosure: I probably said “gay and lesbian.” I haven’t always been Mr. Informed and Evolved.)

The responses I got went something like this:

Agency: Uhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . sure we do.

Other Agency: Ummmmmmmm . . . yes . . . we do that. Still Other Agency: Single . . . gay . . . lesbian . . . ummm . . . yeah.

Call me crazy, but that’s a lot of “ummm.”

Finally, at orientation number five? six? I asked the same questions. This time, I got: “Oh, of course! Our director is a lesbian! We love working with LGBT families!”

Sold. And we were on our way.

Now it’s your turn! Share your family-building story by leaving a comment, or contact me at joe@jmswordsmith.com to have your story featured as a post in a future week!

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