My world is expanding. And it is good.
I think it's time for another discussion about open adoption, folks. (For an up-close-and-personal account of what one open adoption looks like, go to Christine's pseudo-crunchy site.)
People keep asking me, "How long do they say the wait will be?" and "Where are you on the list?" and then I get to do some edumacating!
There isn't a list. There isn't a typical wait. There isn't a "typical" birthmother. Some birthmothers are teens, some are in college, some are married, and some have other children. Some biological mothers who are raising their children are fat, some are trim, some are vegetarians, some play raquetball. Some adoptive parents are rude, some are angels, and some are completely and totally average Joanne's. Typically, there is no typical.
So, a woman experiences an unplanned or ill-timed pregnancy. Sometimes she is devastated, sometimes angry, sometimes ecstatic, often conflicted (please feel free to chime in here, birthmothers). Hopefully, if she comes to the decision to place her baby for adoption, she has done so without undue pressure from an agency, family, a husband, friends, or TV (am I being naiive?). In any case, it has to be the most difficult decision she will ever make, and she will search her heart thoroughly before (and after, and forever?) doing so.
At our agency, the mother, after extensive counseling, looks at a stack of 1-page prospective adoptive parent profiles, maybe talks to a few, and then selects a family to possibly parent her baby. She gets to change her mind at any time. She is the mother, it's her right. Get this, oh ye uninitiated, the profile has our real, live, actual phone number on it. Sound scary? It can be, at first. Let's be honest. I mean, when you think of having a baby, you don't immediately think of mommy, daddy, baby, and birthmother. It's a paradigm shift (I must say, I do not take credit for these comments, they were my lovely husband's words). But now, knowing how much our future child's birthmother would be able to offer to the child throughout the child's life is immeasurable. Adoption is different. It is. Don't deny it. Cliche time coming up - embrace it!
In our case, after education and prayer, we're thrilled for her to have our identifying information, and we want hers. We want to call her when our child is old enough to have questions about her, and when we wonder where on earth he gets his love of gardening (we stink at gardening). If she chooses us to parent her baby, she is free to call any time. We'll invite her and her family to different occasions and hopefully they will come. She might not want to, especially at times, but we'll keep asking.
You get the picture. You're smart.
She might choose us in the 7th month of her pregnancy, or may have just recently given birth to her baby when she chooses. Therefore, it could be a few months if we're picked right away and she's almost due, it could be a year if we are not chosen right away, and it could be 2 days if she has already given birth. So, we wait. Soon, grasshopper.
Things I feel uncomfortable hearing:
I think you are brave/courageous/called/etc. to adopt. (Isn't it brave to have a child at all in this world?)
Your child will be lucky to have you. (Our birthmother will likely be wonderful and eventually completely able to parent, but for any reason not able to right now.)
I just know that open adoption isn't for me. (Please, please, research and consider it!)
And the obvious one, "I don't know if I could every see an adopted child as my own." (Then don't adopt. That's fine.)
I have to stop now. You won't be hearing from me for awhile. I'm not sick...stay tuned. We'll be officially waiting soon.
I also have to say, and you know this already, but I'm not perfect! Far from it, in fact. Perfection is Jesus Christ the One and Only. There will be times where I won't want to "share" our child. There will be times when I make an ugly face to myself when the birthmother of our child refers to her as "my daughter." I will want to punch someone who says, "Is she yours?" or "Do you know her real mother?" If I hurt you, give it a minute, breathe, and tell me. Nicely, please, I'm sensitive.
Oh, and ONE LAST THING. When I say "Our" baby, I mean ours to be more than two people. That's all, folks.