Monday, November 21, 2011
Reflections on National Adoption Month from an Adoptive Dad - Part 1
It’s hard to believe that the month of November is nearly upon us. November is a month of seasonal change, with leaves falling and frost often glistening on the lawn in the early morning sun. November is when we celebrate Veterans Day and gather with family for Thanksgiving. By the end of November, most of us have put up the Christmas tree and begun earnest preparations for the Christmas holiday. November is fun and hectic and expensive and fattening – I’m thinking of that Thanksgiving turkey – and for all of this and much more, we look forward to the month of November. My family enjoys November for all of these reasons, but we also appreciate the designation of November as National Adoption Month. I realize that the celebration of adoption is not typically on the short list of “important things about November,” but for my family, this celebration is just as meaningful as Thanksgiving, perhaps even more so. We don’t celebrate National Adoption Month with parties and balloons and festivals and parades; rather, our family time becomes just a little bit sweeter as we reflect on the amazing journey that brought us together as a family.
Like many adoptive families, adoption was not on our radar when Julie and I were married. I don’t have space here to share all of the details that changed our direction, but I will say that when we began to investigate adoption as an opportunity to bring children into our home, many of our preconceived notions about adoption were shattered. Our adoption agency made a great effort to educate us, answer our questions, and help us through the adoption process which can be complex, time-consuming and expensive. Over time, we realized that birthmothers are often just scared young ladies who are taking responsibility for their actions by making the agonizing, heart-wrenching, courageous choice to lovingly place their baby into a caring, stable home which is better-equipped to care for the needs of the child. We realized that open adoption, under the right circumstances, could result in a healthy relationship for the child, the parents, the birthparents, and extended family members. We learned that adoption expenses, while high, are often justifiable and that there are foundations which can help relieve some of the financial burden of adoption. We realized that adoption can be a long, emotionally-draining process. We realized, most importantly, that adoption is not second best.
I can still vividly remember the first time that Julie and I met Laura at the adoption agency. This young lady and her parents had reviewed a dozen or more profiles, ours among them, which had been submitted to the agency by prospective adoptive parents. She had decided she wanted to meet with us in person. Julie and I had made the drive to Virginia that January morning, and the thought that Laura may select us to parent her child was overwhelming and humbling. I’m actually not sure who was more nervous as we sat and talked that morning, but the conversation flowed easily, and we received word a couple of weeks later that we would be parents of a baby boy. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby, and had a hard time explaining to Julie why I was sobbing when I called to give her the good news. Ethan was born in February of 2005 and when he officially joined our family in a celebration at the agency, we shed more tears of joy!
Check in next week for Part 2 to hear how this family of three became a family of four.