In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is running a special series called 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
By Nanci Stein “Granci”
I remember standing at the kitchen sink a little over two years ago when my daughter told me she had something to discuss with me. It was a serious statement. She had come in from Chicago for a stone setting for my mother-in-law. It had been a rough year.
My daughter had just lost her second pregnancy, and she was devastated. She and her husband desperately wanted to start a family. They had grand ideas to have many children. It was a hard time in motherhood for me, because I wasn’t able to fix what was broken. Even though my daughter was an adult and had been on her own for many years, I still felt that my role as a mother was to protect her. All I could do was listen and be there and be supportive.
I couldn’t wait to be a grandmother. I dreamed of a little girl with blond curls (have no idea why since no one had blond hair except for my mother). She would be smart and musical like my daughter. She would have my son-in-law’s curly hair and sense of humor. All of this was pure fantasy, but I enjoyed the daydreams.
One by one, many of my friends’ children were having babies, and even though I was happy for them, it often felt like a stab in the chest. How selfish of me. But the pain my daughter was going through was more than I could bear.
Getting back to the kitchen sink, drying dishes, my daughter sprang it on me that she was thinking about adopting. In a nanosecond, a million thoughts went through my monkey brain. Was it too soon to be thinking of this? Had they pursued every option to conceive and carry a baby? What was their hurry? The list went on and on. Of course instead of saying any of these things, I listened intently to what she had to say. I am blessed with a wonderful and open relationship with her and was very interested in what she had to say.
She was tired of the drugs, shots, doctor appointments, rude questions from people, and the whole ball of yarn. She wanted to start a family and didn’t want to wait for more tests, more failed pregnancies and more heartbreak. She certainly put things in perspective. How could I blame her for having had enough? Having had two successful pregnancies, I certainly didn’t understand entirely what she was going through both physically and emotionally. She was pursuing another specialist, but she also wanted to pursue adoption options.
For the first time in a long time, I was speechless. How much do I ask? What do I ask? I needed to wrap my head around this whole thing. I guess in today’s age of medicine, you don’t think that pregnancy should be so difficult.
I didn’t know anyone else who was going through the adoption process. Everyone seemed to be getting pregnant at the drop of a hat. Little did I know at the time that there was a greater plan.
And so the process began. My daughter and son-in-law began to research adoption agencies and decided that a domestic adoption was the way they wanted to go. I began to do my own research and started reaching out to professionals that I knew regarding the process and what resources might be available here in Cleveland. I was cautious as to how much and what to tell my daughter. I didn’t want her to think I was trying to micro manage her life. I was only trying to be helpful.
During our next visit together, my daughter announced that they had decided on an agency that they liked and were going to pursue the process. She asked my opinion about starting the adoption process and still pursuing the fertility route. I said whatever happens, happens. If she should adopt and also get pregnant, than she would have two babies instead of one. She explained the whole process and what would take place with home visits, classes, and paperwork. Their life would be looked at under a microscope. She didn’t appear to be bothered by any of this, and for the first time in a long while, she seemed content and relaxed about their decision.
My husband, on the other hand, was another story! He didn’t get any of this and held lots of misconceptions about adoption. He had a personal connection growing up with two cousins who were adopted and had a very tainted picture of what our future grandchild would be like. It was a battle to try and reason with him and keep him from expressing his concerns with our daughter. I think his concern was whether he could love a child that wasn’t his blood. How narrow minded, but I guess many people feel this way.
We were asked to send out letters to anyone we knew that could be helpful in finding a potential baby. The more people who knew, the better the chances were of finding a baby.
My husband finally came on board and was very helpful in giving out these letters to anyone who could possibly be a connection. My daughter and son-in-law needed to indicate on their list of possible babies who they would or wouldn’t accept. They felt awkward about this but needed to be honest. There were many circumstances and conditions they realized they wouldn’t be comfortable with, and others that they were very open to considering.
One option was to adopt a minority baby. My daughter and her husband were very open to the idea, but this is when my husband totally freaked out. Not that he is a bigot, but he was very concerned about what could lie ahead for them as parents in a transracial home. He wasn’t quiet about stating his concerns. I tried to reason with him that this wasn’t his life, that this was 2010, and that he needed to be accepting.
He didn’t let up and it caused much tension with us. I was put in an awkward situation --reasoning with him and explaining to our daughter that he was only concerned for them.
I was listed as a reference for my daughter with the agency. I remember being in New York visiting our son when I got the call from the social worker at their agency asking if I had time to discuss my daughter adopting a child. My heart stopped. My voice choked up, and I had a hard time catching my breath.
This was real. I became very emotional and excited at the same time. It was actually happening. The possibility of a baby coming into our lives was becoming more and more a reality.
It was December 1, 2010 when their application was complete and their profile was posted on the agency website. What a different world this was for all of us! The agency indicated that it could take 1 to 2 years before they received a baby. They were prepared for the long wait. We continued to reach out everywhere possible.
I won’t get into the details of the failed adoption that they sought on their own. It was a bad situation from the beginning, and I was very concerned with the avenue they were exploring. But this was their journey and they needed to do whatever they needed to do. It was again a stressful time with a bad ending. My husband and I were on an international cruise when this was all taking place and the anxiety that I felt was miserable. I felt so out of control and out of contact. My daughter did not want to talk about it, so I respected her wishes.
On our trip back we stopped in San Francisco where my daughter was attending a professional conference. We were able to spend some time with her and she seemed ready to move forward with the agency’s help.
We returned home on a Friday and received a call from my daughter the next morning indicating that the agency had contacted my son-in-law while she was in San Francisco. They had twin boys that were 10 weeks old and wanted to know if they were interested! Twins!! She wasn’t actually considering this, was she? Why not -- instant family?!
Since the boys were preemies, they had extensive medical records, and the birth mother had already relinquished her legal rights. She was working with the agency and wanted to meet with my daughter and son-in-law.
On Monday, my daughter and son-in-law met the birth mom, and on Tuesday, they held their two new infant sons and brought them home!
Who would have guessed that this journey would have ended with twin African American boys who were going to be raised Jewish! These boys were meant to be part of this family. I can’t imagine life without them. They have brought so much joy, fun, laughter and love to us.
And my husband… he has come around full circle and loves those boys more than life itself.
By Nanci Stein
Nanci Stein has been married for 37 years. She is the proud mother of two amazing adult children and the proud grandma of beautiful twin boys. She has retired as the executive director for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation and spends her free time advocating for education in Cleveland, Ohio.
Portrait of an Adoption has been nominated to the Circle of Moms Top 25 Book Author Mom Blogs! If you are enjoying this adoption series, please support Portrait by clicking here and voting! So easy to do, and you can vote once a day until December 7, 2012.
Portrait of an Adoption is hosted by Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. This year’s adoption series is full, but if you have a story you would like to submit as a candidate for next year’s series, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed under: 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, adopting after loss, adoption agency, birthmother grief, domestic adoption, foster care, genetics, home study, Jewish, pregnancy loss, religious conversion of adopted child, Uncategorized