By Karla Thomas
It’s been almost 5 years since we brought our oldest daughter home. As she celebrates her 5th birthday this month, which coincides with Adoption Awareness Month, it’s a perfect time to share our story. My wife and I started our adoption journey back in 2009. I knew from the age of 12 that I wanted to adopt. As a couple that chose adoption as their first path to having kids, it was truly a heady and exciting time. We interviewed several adoption agencies and ultimately chose our agency, predominately because of their focus on counseling before and after the adoption for the Birth Parents.
Both times we adopted, we breezed through the preparation process – education, background checks, etc. But the time spent on the wait list proved to be mentally and emotionally all consuming. It really proved to me that patience was not my strongest trait. It also started to bring up all sorts of insecurities that I didn’t really think I had. You see, as a mixed race, same gendered, bi-national couple, we are not exactly what you call a “traditional” couple. Would someone actually choose us?
On our first adoption back in 2010, we were truly blessed to only have to wait just over three months before getting a call that we fit the requirements of a couple who gave birth to a baby girl just a few weeks earlier. We were going to be one of six families presented to the birth parents. To be honest, we didn’t have much hope. What were the odds that they would pick this super non-traditional family over six other more conforming families?
Eight days went by after our profile book was presented…and then we heard back. I was just about to drop my car off at the auto shop and with the repair guy standing right outside my window, I started to scream with joy. They chose US! The poor guy had no idea what was going on.
As it turns out, because of some unfortunate childhood experiences, our daughter’s birth dad was uncomfortable putting his precious baby girl in the arms of any other man. He was thrilled to find two women on his list of options. While that reality, and the source of that concern is extremely sad, it really goes to show that you never know what about you or your experiences will resonate with a birth parent. What we first discounted as a potential negative for us, turned out to be our upper hand against the other potential families.
The adoption of our second daughter took much longer (or so it felt). We were on the list for 13 months. It was a more emotional process, because we presented for six different situations before we were picked on the 7th go round.
This would not be a year I would want to relive. While theoretically you always tell yourself, “the perfect little angel for my family is out there, and he/she will come along in their own time,” truly living that statement is a different thing. It helped to keep busy, and boy did we! I was changing jobs and we sold our house, moved into a rental and were building a new home by the time our second miracle came along. This time, our birth mother happened to self-identify as a lesbian and loved my dreads from our profile picture…what are the odds! Once again a reminder that you never know what will stand out about your family to Birth Parents.
As a “conspicuous family,” when we were looking for a great area to raise our children, we were determined to find a community in which our family would be fully embraced. Finding the right community for you and your children is something I would recommend to anyone who is considering a transracial or same sex adoption as they start the journey. We realize the importance for kids to be able to see other role models in their community who look like them and have other friends in their community with similar family structures, so they see themselves reflected in those around them. We feel blessed to have found our ideal community in Evanston, Illinois. We have many other same gender families nearby and while it’s not the city (we were moving out of Chicago), it’s very diverse and has the right vibe for our family.
There are times during the adoption journey where you will doubt yourself or feel frustrated. But the day you hold your little one in your arms, that will all melt away. We could not have imagined growing our family any other way!