Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences.
Come Meet Your Son
We wanted to adopt, and we hoped to adopt a newborn. Originally, we considered private adoption, but after reading up on ethnical adoption and seeing the cost difference based on the ethnicity of the child, we decided to adopt from foster care. After we made the decision that we’d adopt from the county, we gave up the idea of adopting a newborn baby. We thought perhaps we’d get a toddler.
We went through the twelve weeks of adoption classes. We turned in our physicals. We completed our home inspection. We even talked with our adoption worker about what kind of child we’d like to adopt. She asked us to imagine what kind of child would be a good fit for our personalities and lifestyle.
Gender didn’t matter to us, but we said that in this imaginary, magical world we’d like a Black and Mexican child (since that’s our heritage), one that is a newborn and wouldn’t have regular family visitation, because we travel a lot. We all laughed. No one thought that we’d be matched with a child like that. What are the odds?
After turning in our paperwork, we booked a trip to Peru. We hoped it would be our babymoon and guess what? It was. A week or two after our return, I planned to go to Disneyland with a friend. I was already headed to her house when we got The Call. I missed the call and heard the message in her living room. I returned The Call but the social worker wasn’t at her desk. I was ready to head out to Disneyland, but my friend told me to wait a few minutes to see if she returned that call.
This whole time, I was a bit pessimistic about working with the county and dealing with foster care social workers. I was in foster care during my teen years, and it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. But that day everything changed.
The social worker quickly returned my call and told me that there was a two-week old baby in the NICU that needed a home. The little boy was Black and Mexican. Due to the history of the family, there was a good chance that this placement would go to adoption. I stood there crying while my friend took photos of me smiling through my happy tears. I called my partner, hugged my friend good bye, and headed to the hospital.
It was all so surreal. When we arrived at the hospital, both our adoption worker and the baby’s social worker were there. A nurse picked up the baby from the plastic bassinet and turned toward us.
“Come meet your son,” she said. He was so tiny and perfect. We had to show them that we could change a diaper, hold him, and feed him. He was on a strict feeding schedule and he had twenty minutes to finish a little, tiny bottle of preemie formula. They kept notes and knew that he rarely finished the bottle in that time. I sat in the chair, snuggled him close, and he ate the whole thing in about ten minutes. My partner beamed. The nursing staff smiled.
We took him home a few days later. He was such a calm baby. We spent the first four months feeding him, bathing him, and watching him sleep in different cute outfits with animal feet on his toes and animal faces on his booty. Why do they make those things for kids? I have no idea, but they are very cute.
After a while, we started having our court dates. In our county, the court checks in on the kid(s) every six months. Our adoption worker thought that the courts would terminate the baby’s parents’ rights at the first six-month hearing and we would be able to finalize in January. Can you hear all the other adoptive parents laughing right now? Yeah, things rarely go as planned.
I was at work when the six-month hearing took place. I work as a professional speaker so I had to wait for a break and sneak away from the audience to call our adoption worker. She told me that they found a maternal uncle. They had to inform the uncle that his nephew was in care and see if he was prepared to parent him.
I started crying. She said that the uncle didn’t want to parent but we had to follow procedure so the adoption could go through. I hung up the phone and just stood for a few minutes. My mind was thinking about this little baby and what was right for him. I had to pull myself together, because I had to finish up the event. I wiped my face and went back to work.
Around March, we were informed that the uncle had been given a chance to parent and had declined. The road was clear for us to adopt. I was happy but still nervous. Until the adoption was finalized in court and the papers were signed, anything could happen. The baby’s social worker and our adoption worker both seemed sure. We were called in to sign some paperwork in anticipation of finalization. I started getting excited.
Since we hoped to finalize over the summer, we thought we’d celebrate with a trip to South Africa. I’m the type that always needs something to worry about so now that finalization looked imminent, I started worrying about getting the baby’s passport and paperwork in time. South Africa had just enacted some tough new laws to thwart trafficking. I asked our adoption worker if I should buy the tickets for August since we still didn’t have our finalization date. She said to go ahead.
We ended up getting a finalization date in May. Our judge was so nice. She let us hang a banner across the front of her desk and take almost thirty minutes worth of photos. She gave our son a stuffed bear and even stood in for a few photos. The next day, we applied for the baby’s passport. It came two weeks later with no problems. We spent three weeks in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The baby took his first steps while in South Africa. We celebrated his second birthday this spring.
All told, we were matched and finalized in about a year. We were matched with a healthy newborn with the specific ethnicities that match our family. We worked with amazing social workers (the baby had three over the course of a year) and our super, duper amazing adoption worker. When we started, I would have said that a story like this couldn’t happen. There are a lot of negative ideas out there about adopting from foster care. Those stories may be part of the truth, but they are not the whole truth. This is our story.
S is part of a Black and Mexican family that was matched with a Black and Mexican newborn from foster care. She and her husband run their own business and travel the world. They are hoping to adopt again. Read more about their story at https://parentsofcolorseeknewborntoadopt.wordpress.com/
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