We all have dreams about how our lives will play out and what our future family will look like. When my husband and I unexpectedly had a medically fragile child, life suddenly didn’t look like anything we dreamed about. We faced infertility and miscarriages, and we were no longer sure what our family journey would be. But we were lead to adoption. When we learned our path for a Russian adoption had been shut down by the government, once again we were set adrift.
We decided to let the journey lead us instead of try to make so many decisions on the front end. So we signed up to take foster and adoption certification classes through the state. In the end, we decided to pursue domestic adoption. But the decisions don’t end there! Could we afford an adoption consultant? How did we feel about using a placement agency? Would an attorney be a better path?
Despite all the hiccups in our family planning journey, would you believe we still had dreams about how it was all “supposed” to be and how it should all work? Maybe because of all the loss and grief we had already experienced, I hung on to some unrealistic expectations. We decided that we didn’t want to use an agency because so many of their expectant mothers entered into agreements for the financial benefits. We wanted a birth mother to be doing this for what we believed were “the right reasons.” We couldn’t afford a consultant, so that was totally out even though we knew it would be our quickest path to placement.
I grew up a child of the late 70s and 80s. Lifetime movies were beloved by the many women in my family. In my head, I didn’t want a birth mother to be able to “stalk” my children on the playground (like I had seen in Lifetime movies), so I wanted there to be some physical separation between where she lived and where we live. So I started calling attorneys back in our home state, where my husband and I visited at least once a year. In my mind, if any birth family wanted an annual visit, we could accommodate that request since we already traveled home once a year. But even the most recommended attorneys I spoke with didn’t give me any warm and fuzzy feelings. It all felt very transactional, cold and business-like.
A mutual friend offered to send me the number to the attorney she had used 16 years prior — he was in Louisiana just an hour down the road. When he first gave me 3o minutes on the phone (more time than any previous attorney) and then offered to set a 3-hour appointment to meet, I knew we might have found “the one” for us. When we discovered he had recently lost a special needs brother, and he understood our need for a “low drama” situation, we knew we found our attorney.
It was almost 8 months before we got the call that we had a potential match. We knew that going with an attorney would mean a longer waiting period, and we were willing to wait for the right situation for our family. Unlike an agency, the attorney didn’t have a long list of potential birth mother matches. We knew this would be the trade off for lower fees: a longer wait.
We were matched with a birth mother and got to be present for the birth of our daughter. We ended up doing a domestic adoption, however the mother was here on a two-year work visa. So in some ways, it was a domestic, international adoption. Funny how some things come full circle. We finalized our adoption when she was 18-months old, and we are going to adopt again. And once again we will choose an attorney to match us.
Having gone through this journey, I believe we have expectations that are a little less rigid this time. Maybe they are a little more realistic now that we have a little life experience with the whole process. Perhaps we are a little less “righteous” about our standards for a birth mother, and our expectations for her lifestyle. But we still believe using an attorney is still the best fit for our family, both emotionally and financially. We may actually cast a little wider net by listing with more than one attorney, but we are confident with our choice to use this avenue to grow our family. Even if it means we may wait a little longer.