The strange thing was, the biggest factor in our decision - the fact that Faith has Down's Syndrome - was quickly taking a back seat in our minds as we sorted through some of the peculiarities of the situation. Our questions and conversations became less about "Can we handle DS?" and more about "How would this actually work?"
Without going into the details now, I'll just say that there were several factors that made it seem risky to us to drop everything and pursue Faith's adoption. At the time, we were just a few weeks into our Chinese home study. We had paid about $1700 in fees and other costs associated with beginning our Chinese dossier, and we were on track to have all of our paperwork done by the time I turn 30 in April. So the question wasn't just about saying "yes" to Faith, it was also about saying "no" to China. And when we learned about some of the complexities of Faith's situation, we simply weren't confident enough to pull out of the China program with our other agency based on what we knew about Faith's circumstances.
But the reality was, we still didn't know all that much! We didn't even really know how a "normal" domestic adoption worked so it was extremely difficult to wrap our brains around an abnormal domestic adoption! We asked to sit down with the agency's director (who had been the one to talk with Faith's birth mom) to try get a better understanding of how it all might go. So Saturday - just three days after we had first heard about Faith - we met with the director and she told us everything she knew about Faith and her birth mom and how and why she came to be placed for adoption.
Then she explained how a "typical" adoption would go. Here's a very brief explanation (to the best of our knowledge):
- Adoptive families apply to an agency, complete a home study and then write birth parent letters and create photo books which together make up their family profile. They fill out questionnaires about how much contact (openness) they would be comfortable having with birth parents before and after placement, and about the parameters they are open to as far as a child - age, race, special needs, etc.
- Birth moms contact the agency and express their desire to place their child for adoption. They may articulate the sort of family they are looking for for their child, the level of openness they are hoping for, etc, or they may not know what they are looking for. The agency shows them several family profiles that match the family's preferences with the birth mom's preferences and the birth mom chooses a family from those profiles.
She explained that Faith's birth mom was coming in the following Thursday to look at profiles, so if we wanted to be considered, we should create a photo book and write a birth mother letter. Usually families have several weeks or months to compile their profiles. We had four days. There was no time to waffle. We left that meeting and both of us felt, in our guts, that we should at least present a profile to Faith's birth mom. My parents (who were in on the newest development because my mom had been at my house when I first got the email) had been watching Lila while we were at the meeting and my sister and her husband happened to stop by for dinner so we decided then was as good a time as any to catch them all up on the latest twist in our adoption journey.
We told them about Faith and everything we knew about her situation. And then we told them we felt like we were supposed to present our profile to Faith's birth mom. The Husband called his parents to get them up to date, too. At that point, I think both the Husband and I were feeling confident enough to put ourselves out there, with the comfort that she may or may not choose us to parent her baby. It was just the right amount of out of our control. We both simply felt like we should say "yes" and see where that yes took us.
So I got to work on our birth mother letter and photo book. I stayed up until 2:00am for four nights in a row in order to get it done just under the wire (as I teased here).
I finished it early Thursday morning and had it printed at Costco. I actually never saw it completed because the Husband picked it up for me and dropped it at the office at 2:00pm - just two hours before Faith's birth mom was scheduled to look at profiles. There are a bazillion typos in it which aggravates me to no end.
I was exhausted, irritable and stressed which, of course, made me a really good mommy that day (sarcasm). Also, it was a snow day so I stressed about the Husband making it in time and Faith's birth mom making it in at all. By the time 4:00pm rolled around I was a basket case. I texted this picture to my few friends who were in on it and praying for us:
|Those responses are why I love them.|
One entire bag of sweet potato chips later, I settled in to wait for a call or email from the agency, terrified Faith's birth mom wouldn't choose us and just as terrified she would!