What is it? What does it look like? How much does it cost? Is it hard? Did you need an attorney? Do I have to adopt from Ethiopia? Can I pick what I want? Didn’t you want to have your own baby? Why didn’t you work with the state? I want to adopt, too. What do you think?
These are just a few of the questions I heard once folks knew that I planned to adopt. It was obvious that most black folks, specifically black women, were as in the dark as me regarding private adoption. When I began thinking about adoption I initially thought I would work through the state of Georgia to complete the process. I had previous experience with adoption and foster care as a child protective services worker and felt I knew the ins and outs. It made sense to follow this route. I signed on with an agency with a focus on connecting potential black adoptive and foster parents with black children who were in need of a temporary or permanent home. Unfortunately, the agency lost its state funding and had to close its doors. I then connected with a second agency. Discussion with them yielded some interesting information. During the process you complete a gazillion forms. One of those forms is a checklist. You specify what characteristics you do and don’t want in an adoptive child. It sounds cold, but it forces you to be honest about your own limitations regarding what you can offer a child. The ultimate goal is a successful placement. After completing all the documents you are assigned a case worker. That person will further refine your responses or ask clarifying questions to get at what you’re looking for from the process and the addition to your family. The case worker and I chatted a couple of times and then a couple more times. I wanted to adopt a child who was between the ages of three and six, was not a part of a sibling group and was either black or had one parent who was black. The case worker said to me “…it’s a myth.” I asked …”what’s a myth.” She responded by explaining the reported media hype that there are all these black children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. Huh? I thought this would be easy. Nope. She told me that unless I was willing to adopt an older child or a sibling group I’d be waiting a time for what I wanted. She then asked had I considered private adoption or a new-born? Record scratch! Newborn! Uh, uh……diapers, sleepless nights, someone that can’t tell you what’s wrong. I admit I wanted to skip all that stuff. I wanted to get right to what I considered the good part – get passed the hard work. Turns out I was wrong. It’s all the good part. I would not have wanted to miss one single second of this little boy’s life. THIS moment right now, right here is the sweetest…and the next moment will be the sweetest, too. To think I almost missed out on this little life because I was dead set on having exactly what I wanted. I am immensely thankful for whatever alignment of the Universe occurred to move my spirit in this direction. The most important piece of advice I can offer to future adoptive parents is that you remain open to what the process brings, be flexible, be patient and be willing to consider a family situation that you had not before.
So, that is how I got to private adoption. My stream of consciousness glossed over the process for public/state sponsored adoption. I am certain there are those of you who will make that choice once you’ve done your own research. To get you started check out The Division of Family and Children’s Services for important links to adoption information and resources in Georgia. You’ll want to get very familiar with these names, acronyms, etc.
My next post will focus on my specific experience with the private adoption process.
In the meantime here are some pics of Julien and I 15 months post adoption.