Friday, January 14, 2011

Who Do You…?

Today's post is a guest peice by our staffer, Nancy.

Trust. Five little letters. Big meaning. When one adopts, that word becomes HUGE. Trust is most definitely a part of the adoption process. The agency has to trust your intention to adopt and work on your behalf. You have to trust that the adoption agency you work with will approve you as adoptive parents. If you work with a lawyer, trusting him or her is also part of the process.

But most of all, I think you need to trust in yourself that you are ready for this commitment--no matter what comes! (And believe me, for some of us, lots of “stuff” comes!)

Many girls dream about their weddings and white picket fences, but I dreamed most about being a mother. When I had a nearly impossible time conceiving, I had to trust there was a way I would someday be a parent. For my husband and me, that miracle happened through adoption.

We were elated—the joy our daughter brought to our lives was unbelievable. We trusted that our “identified adoption” (the birth parents have a say in who adopts their child) would be relatively uncomplicated. We were referred to an agency and engaged them fairly quickly. We interviewed several lawyers and chose one with nearly a whole wall full of pictures of children he helped become adopted. (Seemed like his track record was nearly unparalleled.) We thought our adoption would be finalized with relative ease. What we did not know is that somewhat blind trust could have cost us our adoption.

Perhaps knowing a bit of our story will help anyone in the process, especially when facing snags, to trust the bottom line. What we could not have known was that our supposedly easy adoption would take nearly 18 months to complete—but given our circumstances, should have been done a lot sooner. The lawyer we trusted so completely had a staff member who unknowingly filed our paperwork in a dead file. That original paperwork was not found for over six months. Needless to say, this delayed our finalization!

We had five (count them---five!) social work visits which, at the time, was the norm in the state in which we adopted. We had a great rapport with our social worker, but since our case seemed to drag on, we found she had been transferred to another agency location and we had to start all over with a different social worker. Even though the agency had everything required in our file, the new social worker asked all the same questions, verified again and again the same details, needed updated clearances, as I remember, etc. More time. More hassle. I understood their need for thoroughness, but to us, it was rather daunting.

We felt the first social worker had been accepting of us as a couple and trusted our desire to adopt and raise our daughter (who was already in our home). Our social worker had seen the three of us together, and she told us she felt we were solid! The new social worker was nice, but much more aloof. We (I) didn’t trust that we had the same foundation or footing with her. I remember at the end of her second visit, receiving no obvious verbal clues, wanted to boldly ask, “Well, do you approve us or not?” It was a nerve-wracking time to say the least. (By the way, I did end up asking her—calmly and over the phone—and she laughed softly, “Of course! It’s obvious you three are a family!” So much for being afraid to ask questions!)

We had to trust that even though we were (what felt to us) “scrutinized” (twice, mind you), things would work out. Perhaps you will trust me when I say: sometimes blind trust needs to take a back seat to trusting in yourself. It is perfectly within your rights to ask questions and advocate on your own behalf, should that become necessary.

Case in point! When we didn’t hear from the lawyer for a long time, we naturally just “trusted” that things were okay. No phone call from his office with a court date, or more questions we needed to answer. No nothing. Then one day we received papers from his office that indicated our case was being terminated for lack of our response. Terminated? What? We weren’t terminating the adoption! We had gotten a verbal approved on our homestudy, so the agency and the social worker weren’t “terminating” it. I was in contact with the birth mother and knew she wasn’t terminating it. What in the world--?

Our lawyer matter-of-factly told us that he didn’t have our signed papers. Excuse me? We signed and had sent them in months ago. Good thing for my gotta-keep-a-copy-of-all-documents philosophy. I made a copy of our copy and hand-delivered them that day!

Oh. Their mistake, they said. So sorry, they said. And a few days later, we received our original paperwork with a scrawled note that it had been misfiled. Someone probably had to root through a bunch of files to find it!)

Trust is a powerful word. No one is infallible. “Stuff” comes! So if there is too much silence as you are in the adoption process, going with your gut is critical. I would say: trust most of all in your desire to create your forever family--and do your best to overcome the odds of Murphy’s and assorted other laws that might keep you from your goals of parenting a child. (And remember, that child is counting on you!)

If you feel you are playing “Wheel of Fortune” in your adoption process and need a vowel to solve the puzzle, you don’t need Vanna to help! Remember “U”/”you” are in the very center of T R _ S T!

1 comment:

Beth said...

You will forever impress me with your writing ability and story telling talents. This is a great peice.