Wow… I am so excited to share this!
I know very few parents IRL ( in real life) who have actually adopted children through the public domestic process in their home province/state. Yesterday I got the amazing opportunity to speak with one of the few whom I know, Mr. N, of “Mr. N & Mrs. N.” This is a great couple who work for the same charity I do, but who live in Ontario, whereas Rob & I are in British Columbia. I was out in Toronto for a conference this week, and got the chance to have a brief conversation with Mr. N. Man, do I wish we’d had more time (only 45 mins due to schedules), and that his wife, Mrs. N, had been able to be there, but hey – I’ll take what I can get.
M. & Mrs. N shared on Facebook back earlier this year about their plans to adopt, and their reasons why. I hope to share some of that with you in the future, but the summary of it is that they have a huge heart to provide homes for the children in need in their community. Their story was a bit unique in that they had seen a profile of a young boy (their son) at one of the education course sessions they were at. He had been labelled as “hard to place” and they felt an immediate desire to express an interest in him. The process of getting approval happened very quickly for them and he was placed with them shortly afterwards… that was just this spring (2011.)
Since I didn’t have a lot of time, I asked Mr. N a few specific questions about their process with adoption:
1) How did you decide which medical, behavioural, etc., categories you would be open to with your original application? Mr. N explained that they tried to say which specific factors they were 100% not open to at this time, and then to be open to assessing the specific child and the specific situation for the others. For example, their son had been diagnosed with FAS at the time he entered foster care (at 10 mo’s)… but by the time they met him (at 3 1/2), his development was meeting and exceeding expectations for a child of the same age. He gives a lot of credit for their son’s development to the fact that he was in an amazing home with foster parents who themselves had adopted children through the system, and who were continuing to foster other children. In short, if there are certain things where we feel like it’s “no – for sure and without exception” then note those, but for other things where maybe we’d be open to varying degrees, risk levels, and/or just getting to know the specific situation and child, then leave them open.
2) How has transition been going? Mr. N mentioned (after I shared with him a number of the stages I’d read about in the transition process; i.e. the honeymoon phase, rejecting one parent, etc.) that all of those things are totally true and they’ve experienced them. He also shared that one benefit of starting this process without having parented before is that you don’t know any better… basically that while there are challenges in the process, many biological parents have challenges with becoming parents and with the different steps and stages they experience; sleepless nights, colic, medical problems, etc., and that adoptive parents just have a different set of challenges to face, which arent’ necessarily better or worse. I found this really encouraging!
3) What advice would you give to Rob and I as we start out on this journey? Firstly, he encouraged me that honouring the grieving process of infertility is a wise choice. He said that learning to grieve in a healthy way is actually a valuable skill to have and will help in the future as we encourage our children to grieve their own losses as well. Secondly, he encouraged us to really ‘know’ and ‘own’ our motivations and reasons for wanting to go this route for adoption, because there will be challenges, struggles, and disappointments along the way – so it’s really important to remember why we’re doing this! Finally, he encouraged us to be looking to God for what He has for us in this process, and to honour that. All awesome stuff.
So while we only had a short time to chat, I’ve got to say that I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I told Mr. N that there’s just something about being able to talk about this with others, and/or read other people’s stories that normalizes the experience for me… and that the more information I have, and the more normalized this all feels, the less overwhelming it is. YAY! 🙂