After my (then) husband and I went through four miscarriages, it was not hard to choose adoption. We didn't need a little clone of ourselves; we just wanted to be parents.
It took us a few months to decide on which agency and program. After so many losses already, we were too scared to have a birth mother change her mind, so we knew a foreign adoption was for us. We took several weeks weighing the pros, cons, processes of several countries, finally deciding on South Korea. After a long process of office visits, home visits, mountains of paperwork, fingerprinting, background checks, reference checks, and red tape, we were finally approved!
The wait before we found out we were going to be parents was agonizing. I felt at times that I'd never become a mom. That the one thing I wanted more than anything in life would never happen. Then one day in November my phone rang one, and it was the social worker: "Congrats! It's a boy!" I was over joyed!
Our son had been born just over one month prior to that phone call. I printed multiple copies of his picture and hung them in every room of our house. His face was the last thing I'd look at before I went to sleep and the first thing I'd see when I woke up. It was an odd feeling of knowing "I'm a mom, but I've never touched his jet black hair, and I don't know his sweet baby scent".
6 Months later, we got the news: "Your baby's paperwork is ready! You can travel to S. Korea to bring him home as soon as you can make arrangements!" The following week, we flew to the opposite side of the world. The moment I first saw him, I squeaked out "hi, baby!" This was the culmination of 15 months of waiting. I was in shock, I was so happy, I was stunned, and I was a mom! A real mom, with my real baby. My biggest dream was realized: I was now a mommy and had my sweet son in my arms.
I am grateful for every obstacle I had on my way to my son. Without my miscarriages, I wouldn't have him. I am grateful for the long wait, paper chase, and hoops we jumped though because it makes me never ever take him, or being a mom, for granted.
If you could say one thing to your child’s biological mother, what would it be?
Thank you for making me a mom. You fulfilled my biggest dream. Our son is an incredible child and I know that much of it is because of his roots. You are always discussed in the highest regard and I have so much respect for your courage and strength.
Have you or do you plan to share your adoption story with your child?
Our son has had his adoption photo album and video available to him and we have discussed his story with him since before he could talk. In my opinion, it's detrimental to the wellbeing of a person to have a moment of finding out you were adopted and your life isn't what you thought it was. Also, since we are Caucasian and our son is Asian, there was no hiding the fact of his adoption anyway, so even more reason for him to always understand his story.
What’s the one thing you’d like your child to know about his/her adoption story?
That he was loved and wanted LONG before he was even born. That he comes from an incredible and beautiful culture and that I'm positive his first mother loved him and that giving him up was likely the most difficult thing she will ever have to do. Also that he was adopted because of the circumstances in his birth mothers life and had nothing to do with him. (Some kids believe they were "bad" as babies and were therefore, given up.)
What is one thing you’d like to share with the world about being an adoptive parent?
Besides the paperwork, it's basically the exact same as having a child by birth. I love him as much as I love the children that eventually came from my womb. I do like to brag about certain traits and I like to say I can brag because "those aren't my genes". Mostly I forget that he was adopted. He's just "my oldest son" and it doesn't matter HOW he became mine, he just IS mine.
What are some good support groups or advice you would give to other people who are looking to adopt?
Most or probably all agencies have internet forums where you can talk to other parents going through the same agency, country, and process. From the agency forum I was part of, a few of us moms who lived nearby to each other started a playgroup in real life and we have been an important part of each other's lives for many years.
In terms of advice for prospective adoptive parents, it's a long road, but worth it. Do your homework on everything: the agency, the country and process, call the references. There are so many kinds of kids out there desperate for a mommy and daddy, but figuring out the child that will fit best into your household can be a journey with unexpected emotions. Research as much as you can, including attachment, bonding and the effects of institutionalized care. So many kids are affected deeply by the losses that led them to need adoptive parents and the events that occurred as they waited.
If you are adopting a child that is not the same race as you research racism. Also help them learn and know their culture so they will be able to identify with their race. Get to know other families that look like yours and help your child to make friends with those of his or her race.
Lastly, it helps to have adoptee friends with whom they can share an understanding of what life is like for them and to not have to explain. It can be a huge source of comfort and also helps lessen the potential feeling of being "out of place".