Navigating Adoption: Part I
I have loved almost every second of our adoption experiences and am excited to tell other people why they should consider it. My husband and I have been married for eight years now and have four kids. Yes, I said four. Just wait – this is the best part – they are all seven years old and under. You need a nap now? Because I do. The crazy part is that we CHOSE those last two additions. We can’t blame bad birth control so I therefore plead insanity.
But let me explain…
I hated pregnancy. I know that’s SO not politically correct. That I should be thankful to grow these two precious gifts in my womb and wear flowers in my hair and pose for those ridiculous I’m-pregnant-in-a-field-wearing-a-midriff pictures. But that was not me. My pictures would be more like I’m-pregnant-and-puking-out-the-car-window-at-a-stoplight. I didn’t glow, I vomited. I didn’t have natural labors with soothing music and a hot tub, I had an emergency C-section. But alas, we have two amazing biological kids that I can NOW say were totally worth it. Well, mostly worth it. Anyways, we knew that if we ever got crazy enough to say we wanted more kids that they would come by means of adoption.
How did we know that?
Crazy enough, John and I have known that we wanted to adopt since before we were even married. It honestly felt like a no brainer to both of us. I know that other people get signs and visions and fireworks, but for us the conversation looked more like this:
Me: “Would you ever want to adopt?”
Me: “Cool. Stop eating all the cheese dip.”
So… just before Charis (pronounced “Karis”, our second bio kid) turned two, we began the process of researching and learning about what our options were in the adoption world. After spending just a few hours trying to wade through all of the options and decisions, I hada margarita or 3 and decided to start over after the liquor wore off. Oh. My. Good. God. The choices. Domestic or International? Private or agency? Foster care? Age of child? Race? Hair color? Projected GPA? You think I’m kidding, but almost all of those are legitimate decisions that you as an adoptive parent not only CAN make, but have to make.
We spent about a month with a giant question mark over our heads. All we knew is that we wanted to be a family for a kid out in the world that needed one.
Through a very interesting turn of events, we learned that there was an agency in Memphis (where we live) that was having a hard time placing African American infants in families. This was a GIANT shocker to us. We just assumed that babies were easy to place. They’re little and sweet and smell like hope and don’t call you names yet. But when we started the paperwork for this agency we learned that there were over 25 families waiting for healthy, white infants and ZERO that were approved and waiting for a minority. Again, it honestly felt like an obvious choice for us. Charis had just turned two and we were ready for another tiny one (joke’s on us, our first adopted baby, Jones, was a giant baby).
Our process with Bethany (our adoption agency) went very quickly. Especially when they found out that we were open to any race. They worked with us to get our paperwork and homestudy done as fast as possible. (Sidenote: this isn’t normal.) The homestudy process usually requires two or three interviews as well as a visit to your home. After these visits, the social worker takes all of the information and writes a narrative called the “homestudy” that is a crucial piece of the paperwork for domestic and international adoptions. So the timing depends on the number of families the social worker is working with, aligning your schedules for the interviews, how quickly they work and how quickly you gather all of the necessary documents. We started the process with them in September of 2008 and by the end of November, we had a healthy baby boy sleeping in our crib. Joshua Jones Carroll was born on November 23. He was healthy and squeezable and we were able to bring him home from the hospital where he was born…just blocks away from our house.
But he was a black baby and we’re….well, very white?
Ashleigh Carroll is a wife, mother of four and has a degree in Communications from the University of North Texas (which she uses daily in instructing her children how to use the potty, say please and thank you, and not use their nonverbals in an “ugly” way). Ashleigh is currently working towards a BS in Nursing and expects to graduate in December 2012.