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Domestic or International?

On Friday I got together with three ladies, two of which attend the same church as Husband and I, to talk adoption. I'll call the three ladies A, S, and H. All three of them have adopted babies within the last year through the same adoption agency. One reason that I was excited to talk adoption with these ladies was that they all adopted domestically. Because my sister-in-law and her husband recently finished an international adoption, I have felt more familiar and comfortable with the international adoption process (though still very uninformed about all things adoption). I wanted to learn more first-hand about the domestic adoption process.

A few things have stuck with me after my conversation with A, S, and H on Friday.

First, domstic adoption can be (though it isn't always) faster. All three of these ladies started their adoption process last December. Two of them have had their babies home for six months already. That means their entire adoption process took about six months. Wow. I must admit, it's a little hard not to let that in and of itself sway me away from international adoption. Especially because all three of these adorable bright-eyed babies were present at our Friday get-together. Sigh. I've recently been reading a variety of adoption blogs that a friend of my sister-in-law put together. (You can find them here.) I've read adoptive parents in the adoption process described as vulnerable, tunnel-visioned, desperate, and psychotic. Husband and I are not even in the adoption process yet, but I already feel that I can identify, to some extent, with those descriptions. My feelings tell me, "Fast adoption is good. The faster, the better. I want a baby now. Nownownownownownow." Obviously, my feelings are not entirely sane and dependable right now. My thoughts tell me, "Keep researching. Keep talking with Husband. Keep praying. You haven't decided anything yet."

Another thing that stuck out to me from our conversation was the topic of open adoption versus closed adoption. All three of these ladies have open adoptions, to some extent. The nice thing, they pointed out, about working with a smaller adoption agency, is that the social workers will work with you and the birth parents to decide how open the adoption should be. They do not apply a cookie-cutter shape to every domestic adoption. The idea of an open adoption had always scared me. I couldn't (and still can't quite) imagine the relationship dynamics that would exist if we adopted a child and his parents were still a part of his life. I am beginning to realize, though that there are definite benefits, for the child, the birth parents and even for the adoptive parents. All three of these ladies said they started out the adoption process feeling uncomfortable with the idea of open adoption but are totally comfortable now with the level of openness in their respective adoptions. However, they are only six months, at most, into these new relationships. I feel more open to thinking about open adoption than I did a week ago, but not entirely sold. More research!

All three of the ladies talked about their feelings leading up to when their babies were born. S and her husband were matched with a baby about three months before the baby was born. A had a similar situation. H was called a few days after her baby was born. In the cases of S and A, the waiting time up until the birth was stressful, to say the least. They had to wait until the babies were born for the birth moms to sign papers relinquishing the babies to their adoptive parents, and then there was a waiting period (I can't remember how long) during which the birth mom could change her mind and take her baby back if she wanted. Then, after that, there was a 30 day period during which the birth father could come forward and claim the child (because in both cases the birth father's location was unknown). H had had an experience, prior to her recent adoption, where she and her husband were called down to Florida for a baby, but the birth mom changed her mind. This was all new to me, as the situation is usually quite different in international adoptions.

I want to want the best for everyone involved throughout our adoption, should we definitely choose to adopt. I want to continue to recognize that the decision birth parents make to give their child up for adoption will have tremendous ramifications for them and for their child, for the rest of their lives. That's not a decision to make lightly or hastily. But I could see, through my meeting on Friday, how easy it would be to cross the line into just wanting the birth mom to sign those papers as quickly as possible after the baby is born, to be able to be sure that the baby is mine. By that point, your feelings, as an adoptive parent, are entirely wrapped up in this new baby, whether or not you've seen her yet. To have the birth parents change their mind will be incredibly painful. And yet, it still may be better for both parents and child if the birth parents decide to parent. Ouch.

So, all things considered, I left the meeting with A, S, and H wanting a baby. That's not new. I was feeling open to considering domestic adoption. That is new. But it doesn't mean anything new: it just means more research.

Thank you all for putting up with my rambling thoughts on adoption. I promise, Husband and I do have other things going on in our lives right now, and I promise that my next post will be about some of those things!

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