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 and perspectives.
By Annie Greene
I always knew I was going to adopt, even when I was a little girl. When I emphatically declared it to my family, it must have been strange to hear from a little girl, but because I knew I was the carrier of a hereditary disease, I understood without a doubt, that either I would adopt, or that science would have to play a part in my decision to start my family.
For me, even at age 10, I knew adoption was the path for me. However, I never imagined that I would have started the journey to adopt as a single woman once, let alone twice, or that my life would have taken me on this wonderful twisty ride.
The timing of my first adoption came as my mom was dealing with one of her many health challenges. After one of our visits with my sister’s children, who lived out of the country, I remember my mom telling me that she would live to watch my children graduate from high school. I knew in my heart that she wouldn’t live that long, and I made the decision to start the adoption process, even though I was single and an executive in our family business.
I remember the excitement we both felt as we went to the informational meeting and learned about the birth country where I would create my forever family. Then began the arduous task and mountains of paperwork, interviews, fingerprints and recommendations I would have to prepare in order to become a mother.
The stress of my wait, along with my mom’s declining health, was difficult for my parents and me. For months, I remember waiting to get a call, to find out that there actually was a baby on the way.
When the call finally came, I was at my office, where I worked with my dad. I ran into his office, telling him the news and we excitedly called my mom. Dinner was a celebration at a local restaurant, where my mom told all of the tables next to us that she was going to be a grandmother again.
Joyfully, she showed the pictures of her newborn granddaughter to anyone who would listen. And — while she wasn’t able to come to visit for the first time with my father and me — she flew neck brace and all, to pick up her beautiful granddaughter a few months later.
Our homecoming day to our house was delayed because of a snowstorm, but when we finally arrived, it was Valentine’s Day. It was a wonderful day to remember but one filled with feelings of intense stress and anxiety. After I closed my door, I remember wondering, “What do I do now?” I know this isn’t uncommon for new parents, but for many, they are a team, and many have a great support system around them. For me, I really felt all alone, with a child that I wasn’t sure felt like mine.
My life went back to being the new normal, trying to bond with my eight-month old baby, while trying to figure out how to get her to like sitting in a car seat (or me trying to even figure out how to buckle one), fighting with folding down the stroller in a parking lot, and living through the night terrors.
Every day seemed like a monumental challenge that I was unprepared to face; even with all of the hours of parental training we adoptive parents have to attend.
And yet, we managed to make it through. With her fiery personality and my determination to be the BEST MOM EVER.
So after the required six months of waiting, I decided to start the adoption process again. By this time, the country I had adopted from had closed, and now I was faced with another challenge.
I knew that I wanted to adopt another child, but now the question was, what would be my path? Not only had my daughter’s birth country closed to international adoption, but many others had closed, had long waiting lines, or placed restrictions on adoptive parents’ marital status, age, or even BMI ratios.
It seemed to me that my dreams of becoming a parent again were shrinking. I looked into private adoption as well. Finally, I started my adoption process with two different agencies, one international, one domestic, making a deal that I would stop the other when one of adoption plans moved ahead.
During this time, my mom’s health continued to decline. She would never get to meet her youngest grandchild who was born domestically, one year and 10 days after her passing. While I am not an overly religious person, I know that somehow, my mom’s soul found peace, and she knew that this child was meant to come into our lives.
I received the news of the birth of my new baby when I was out of town. I had a business trip that was in Orlando, and decided that I would take my daughter and sitter there as our “last vacation” before our new baby came into the house. After a whirlwind few weeks filled with meetings, Mickey and Minney, I got a call just as we were boarding the plane home that the baby had been born early.
“CONGRATULATIONS,” they said, “you have a new baby boy!” We could barely contain ourselves as we flew home; this was to be the first grandson in the family. Thinking that I had a few more weeks to prepare, I really had to wrap my head around the prospect of being a mom again, and to a newborn.
So I dropped off my daughter at home, hopped on a flight the next day, and flew to pick up my newest bundle of joy. I did it all by myself this time, and had to struggle to put in a car seat in a massive SUV, buy a bunch of new baby gear and wait for all of the paper work to be cleared to fly home.
I flew home one week later, with a baby boy who looked like my daughter. Over the next year, however, his looks would drastically change, and he would become a handsome African American boy, with “Don King” hair, smizing eyes and a sparkling personality.
Until 6 years later when “he” would become a “she” and our lives would change forever. Of course there are many things that happened during the first six years of life, struggles with anger, ADHD, and the like, but the issue of adopting one gender, and realizing you really have a child of another, is one that was never on my radar.
We are now a transracial adoptive family, and I am a parent of a transgender child.
Wow, that’s a whole lot of stuff to unpack. I joke that I have now become a census just in my own home.
Since my youngest has transitioned, people have asked, “How did you know, were there signs?” And “Your child is so young? Are you really sure she’s transgender?” And while I feel like I have to protect my child’s story, I feel like I have to act like her advocate as well, especially in these difficult political times.
Very politely, I try to explain our story. Condensed, it goes like this: When you have a child that is transgender, they are really your guide.
Yes, in retrospect, there were signs, and maybe I should have picked up on them sooner. However, now that she has transitioned, and our family including aunts, uncles cousins, friends, and our community of friends and school know we are blessed.
She is free to be who her heart and mind know she truly is, and I need to guide her in the best way possible. My journey (which has only started) has been easier than many others who are on this path. All of my family members have been incredibly supportive and have tried to make my child’s transition as seamless as possible.
We are blessed that we are part of a school community that accepts my family with an open heart.
Is it scary to think of what lies ahead for my family? Absolutely. We will have our share of medical; emotional not to mention social pressures too numerous to even contemplate. But I know with love, patience and understanding we will preserver because that is what we do.
Annie Greene is a loving mother raising two wonderful kids.
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Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie’s blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter
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