“Ooooh so cute! I want to find a baby too!”

Maybe I’m just sensitive but….

This story is doing the social media rounds and it’s driving me crazy!  I need to get this out of my system.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/we-found-our-son-in-the-subway/?smid=fb-share

I’m not calling total “B.S.” on the story. I’m not questioning its authenticity, maybe just it’s up-to-datedness.   I do think it’s spreading a false message about how adoption and children’s aid societies really work.

For the last 48 hours my Facebook page has been riddled with links to this article connected to comments like, “Oooh so cute!”, “I like babies, I want to find a baby too!”

It’s just not that easy!  I have read the story a few times now and I still find the circumstances so bizarre.  I understand this happened in Manhattan; maybe the rules are different there.  I understand this happened twelve years ago, maybe things have changed that much in just a short time.

Here’s how this story would have gone down here (in Ontario) and now.  I assume this would be the same for many other places.

A baby is found and someone calls 9-1-1. The child would then be placed immediately into foster care. To become a foster parent, one has to do home studies, trainings (in many places, P.R.I.D.E training) and be approved by the ministry.  Once the child is placed in foster care, an extensive search for the parents would take place.  Assuming the parents are found, charged and classified as unfit to parent, or signed away their rights, the child would become “ward of the crown”.  The child (probably no longer an infant) would then be put on an “adoptable” list.  Waiting parents who have gone through the same home studies and trainings, as the foster parents are now eligible to apply to adopt the child.  Children’s Aid in Ontario would make and effort to match a child of “light brown skin” with a couple of the same race, this is their policy.

A perfect parallel to this story is the story of baby Angelica-Leslie, found in a North Toronto stairwell on a cold day.

I’m happy that the couple in the NYT story have their happy ending.  It really is a dream come true.  I just don’t like the way the story has contributed to adoption myth and fantasy.  I don’t like the way it trivializes the long, painful wait and process.  Yes, I’m just sensitive.  I like babies.  I want to find a baby too.

Hey! We’ve seen this story before!
(source: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/619N55YT7GL._SL500_.jpg)

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Step One!

Step One

Yay! Our home study is complete! What does this mean? It means that our adoption practitioner now sends our file to the adoption agency, who then sends it to the ministry who will then take 4 weeks to 4 months to approve it. On approval (if we are approved), they will send it BACK to our agency who will then translate our documents into Vietnamese and send them to Vietnam. Once our file is sent to Vietnam, and if our file is approved in Vietnam, we wait. Our expected wait time is 18 months to 2 years. (People tell me this will move quickly, but right now it feels like a lifetime. We will likely be adopting a toddler. This baby may already be born!)
In the meantime, there are more forms to fill out, letters to get from accountants and then all we can do is wait.
Step One is another small victory that I will celebrate.
(Now can I fast forward?)

A Picture of Parenthood

To apply to adopt internationally, my husband and I were not required to create a profile or write a “Dear Birthmother” letter.  In our case, the agency will use the information in our home study and any insight from communications with us to create the best match with a child.

When adopting locally, the process is much different.

To prepare for the A.R.E. (see previous post), my husband and I had to create a profile.  We weren’t sure that local adoption was the route we wanted to take, but we didn’t want to turn up empty handed and close a door on ourselves.

Creating the profile was a very interesting challenge.  It’s a strange combination of employment cover letter and an on-line dating profile but with way more weight behind it and way more heart and soul.

I have heard from friends about getting photo shoots of themselves rolling in fall leaves and playing in the park to help to create an image of fun, welcoming parents.  Being a “just in case” profile, we didn’t want to go as far as a photo shoot (this time).  Instead, we went through every photo ever taken of us to find our most “family friendly”, warm, “parent-ish” but also fun, most “ourselves photos. This was a little bit of a challenge but also a heart-warming experience. It was so nice to go through all of our photos, to see all the happy times we have had together and how much we have changed in just a few years.  It was a really good reminder of the positive things in my life at a time when life has been feeling negative and full of loss.

We managed to pull together some photos and write up some general information that painted a truthful and positive picture of us as a couple, us as potential parents.

I have to say; seeing it all on paper really confirmed to me that we’ll be great parents.  I was convinced by my own words.

Overwhelmed at the Adoption Resource Exchange

Last weekend, my husband and I went to our first A.R.E.

In Ontario, there are events called the Adoption Resource Exchange (the A.R.E.).  I had heard about the event, but didn’t really understand what it was all about.  I knew that it was a “trade-show” style showcase of waiting children who are wards of the crown and eligible to be adopted from all over Ontario.

My husband and I have already applied to adopt from Vietnam, but we didn’t want to close any doors.  If there are children close to home, it’s worth a look.  We created a profile and went in with open minds and hearts.

The A.R.E. was very overwhelming.

It was a full day event.  The format of the event seemed strange, but worked well and made sense.

The day began with videos in a large auditorium.  The videos were short video profiles of waiting children.  We were given a folder that included a list of the children’s’ names (in some cases pseudonyms) in order to record any notes.

The videos were very difficult to watch.  The waiting children profiled included everything from children with severe disabilities, children with F.A.S.D or who had been born addicted to drugs, large sibling groups and even teenagers.  Some of the children had been shuffled around the system for several years.

After the first set of videos, we were given time to browse the “booths” (booths set up trade-show style with pictures and profiles of the children and their social worker available to answer questions).  There was also time provided to spend in the “reading room” where we could browse through a large binder of child profiles.  The profiles went in-depth into the children’s’ backgrounds, personalities and any health issues.

There were three sessions like this. It was heartbreaking, exhausting and eye-opening.

By the third set of videos, my husband and I really had to question what we could handle and how we see our future family.   We had to remind ourselves that we were there to start a family, not to “save” children.  This is a realization that is hard to swallow.

The booths were a great help.  Being able to ask specific questions to a child’s caseworker can make things much clearer than trying to interpret the technical language of a child’s profile.  There were children there that we did seriously consider, but had to take a step back and make sure that this is what we really wanted to do and that we weren’t just getting swept away in this heart-wrenching moment. After some very serious discussions, we walked away this time.  We did not submit any proposals; we decided to stick with plan A.  This was a very difficult decision.  All of these children will always remain in my heart and mind. I will always question whether or not we made the right decision. (Even if we had submit our profile, we may not have even been selected – I know this decision goes beyond that of just me and my husband).

There were so many prospective adoptive parents at the A.R.E.  This made me feel good.  This gave me some hope that there is a chance of forever families being created and of the right matches being made.

I know I’ll have the right family for me… I just can’t choose when.

PRIDE training

In Ontario, it is mandatory to take an adoption/parenting training course in order to adopt.  The course is called “PRIDE” and it is pretty expensive.

I was sceptical and so was my husband.  Our first thought (after the gay pride parade) was that it was a money grab.  It’s mandatory, it’s run by the government and it costs a good chunk of money.

The full-day workshops took place over two weekends.  They have been keeping us very busy!  The good news is…we didn’t hate it!

Like any “purchased program” – PRIDE was purchased from Illinois a few years ago – there were components that were formulaic and there were some very old, cheesy re-enactment videos.  This was really the only bad part (and it wasn’t that bad – the videos were unintentionally entertaining).

For the most part the information was useful.  We covered everything under the sun that could possibly go wrong with an adoption and learned how to deal with them.

Our instructor was great to listen to.  She has a great deal of experience working in adoption and is an adoptive mother who experienced her own fertility issues.  Her anecdotes (both personal and those of her many clients) made the information interesting to listen to and very memorable.

Something else that surprised me was my husband’s involvement.  He’s usually the first one to roll his eyes at something, especially if that something contains the word “workshop”.  I was really touched to hear him publically sharing his feelings and ideas and sharing his own experience with adoption.  It was impressive.  More certainty that he’s really serious about all of this… not that I needed another reminder – I’m pretty darn sure by now.

The best part of the weekend workshops was the connections we made with other people who are in our position.  There were even a few couples that live within blocks of us.  The workshops were a bonding experience.  These are relationships that we plan to maintain.

By the end of the weekends, I left feeling good.  I felt positive, I felt like I was on track, I felt like things were happening.

The last slide of the presentation read something like:

“Congratulations! You are now pregnant with adoption!”

I had mixed feelings about this, but I’ll take it.  I’ll enjoy my enjoyable moments.

Congratulations to me.

 

Adopt Ontario

Why I Changed Family Doctors

 

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I went to my family doctor in July to get my medical forms completed for the adoption.  An in-depth physical is required to complete an adoption.  I assume they want to make sure you’re “built to last”.

Dr. “T” has been my doctor for a few years now.  She has always been “ok”.   It is difficult to find a General Practitioner who is accepting new patients, I thought I was lucky to  have found a female doctor who works near my home so I stuck with her.

My last visit to that doctor was in July of 2011.  I went to see her because I was pregnant.  I did the appropriate tests to confirm, booked my 12-week scan and was told to think about where I wanted to deliver.  (I yearn for the innocence of that day).

Over the past year, I have lost three babies, been to specialists and had D&Cs at the hospital.  All of this “medical” information has been forwarded to my doctor.

When I went for my physical she did not mention anything about the pregnancies. As a routine part of the exam, she asked me when my last period was.  I replied “April”.   This confused the doctor and she asked for an explanation.  That is when I realized that she hadn’t even opened my file.  She didn’t remember that I had been pregnant and she didn’t know about the losses and all of the poking and prodding that goes with them.

I was so insulted and so sad.  It would have taken her two minutes to flip through my files before I came in.

There had been other issues that contributed as well.  She wouldn’t take my husband as a patient.  She he listed him as “Caucasian” on the first ultrasound file (she never even asked me about his race – Asian, not Caucasian!).  She only accepts cash and writes receipts by hand (not a computer in sight).  All of this seems insignificant, but in combination was enough.

I knew it was time for a change.

I was lucky to get a lead on a new doctor from my sister-in-law.  A new clinic was opening up just down the street.  We were able to sign on together to a family doctor.  If the adoption goes through, she will happily help with the process and take the squirt on as a patient as well.  The clinic has a great team, modern clean offices, computers and emails!  Our doctor is young, kind and really helpful.  She has gone out of her way to make things easier for us including just now phoning me at home to clarify something for the form because I was not able to miss work for an appointment.  I’m very excited about this fresh start.  It is decisions like this that make me feel like I have some control over a situation that otherwise has no control.

In a time that feels so dark, every ray of sunshine really counts.