February 7, 2012
As we were closing out our Bethany orientation, our leader identified that there was an 8 hour education seminar that all prospective adoptive parents must complete before being able to proceed to submission of an adoption profile (the final component required before you can be presented to expectant parents). The seminar was only provided four times a year, on the first or second Friday of the month, in May, August, October… and February. It didn’t take long for the gears to turn in our brains before we realized that the next seminar would take place just three days from now, and strangely enough, Bethany had openings in this session (something that normally never happens this close to the date).
As we had recently returned from 5 months traveling abroad, I was still working through my job search and had most days of the week free to submit resumes, take phone interviews, etc., so considering that the next chance to complete the seminar would be three months away, likely when I would be working full-time and have exceptionally limited time off available, we emailed the office and asked if it was possible to participate in the session this coming Friday.
We received confirmation of our acceptance to attend the seminar and ultimately concluded that this was the path that our journey would be following towards us adopting an infant. So we got ready to head back out to the Central Valley to spend the day at the Bethany center for “Seminar” or as we came to know it “Adoption 101”.
February 10, 2012
We arrived to the center shortly before 8:30 in the morning for an 9am start (never really know how the traffic will be) and made our way back into the familiar conference room, our home for the next 8 hours as we would learn and share the day with a team of Bethany staff members and 4 other couples looking to better understand how to make their dreams of adoption into a reality.
The day was spent with a short review of the material we had covered in the orientation a few days earlier and quickly transitioned into other important topics that we would have to consider as we moved forward with the adoption process.
Child Centered Adoption
Bethany has a strong focus on child centered adoption and, as we learned, this is one of the most important aspects of the adoption process for us. One key point of this is to fully embrace that adoption is the integration of two family legacies. Both will make up who the child is and this should be recognized and celebrated as much as possible! Understanding your child’s origins, culture, and traditions will help to anchor them and allow them to reflect on their past while giving them a strong and supportive environment of their upbringing to connect with their forever family.
Steps In The Adoption Process
The next segment of the day presented us with a checklist that provided a view into all that it would take for us to adopt. For the first time, we had a clear and detailed view of what it would take, from start to finish, to adopt a domestic infant, and let me tell you… It is substantial and comprehensive (for all the right reasons):
>> An Online Preliminary Application
>> Attendance at a Bethany Orientation Session
>> Adoption Education (Book Reading and Online Trainings)
>> A Statement of Faith
>> A Spiritual Questionnaire
>> Questionnaire 1 (A Personal Questionnaire)
>> A Formal Bethany Application
>> More Adoption Education (More Book Reading and Two More Online Trainings)
>> Open Adoption Questionnaire
>> Medical Exams and Reports
>> Family of Origin Worksheets
>> Health Insurance Affidavit
>> Will/Living Trust Affidavit
>> Adoption Release and Consent Form
>> DMV Verifications
>> First Aid and CPR Certifications
>> Copies of Birth Certificate
>> Copies of Marriage License
>> Four Interviews (Joint and Individual, Including a Home Interview)
>> Attending the Day Long Adoption Education Seminar
>> Home Study
>> Creation of the Adoptive Family Profile
>> Completion of the Adoption Preference Survey
>> Posting of your profile on the agency’s website
>> Outreach and Networking
>> A few more education requirements
>> “Baby Care” Class
>> Hospital Plan
>> Open Adoption Agreement
>> Four Post-Placement Visits
>> A few more education requirements
>> File court documents with the county of residence
>> Set and Attend Court Date
>> Receive new birth certificate for your child
This list brought a few moments of mixed reviews for me… While the joy of building a family is natural for most parents, and is based primarily on a simple process of timing and intimacy, the list of all these requirements seemed almost clinical and returned me back to the days of working with the staff of the Reproductive Science Center as we were working through our fertility concerns…
I remember paperwork and forms, hours upon hours on the phone with the insurance companies working through claims and benefits, and reimbursements, and coverage denials… Natalie was receiving boxes (no, not bottles… boxes) of medications on our doorstep, and they had to be administered on time every day and night, without fail. Little white pills did one thing, while orange pills did another… one injection had to be mixed and was intramuscular (I had to administer this one since Natalie couldn’t reach the required destination) while another was a spring loaded syringe and was subcutaneous (she did this one, straight into her belly). We were essentially “on-call” receiving progress reports from the doctor or the nurse on a daily basis at certain points, and arriving for appointments shortly after dawn — sometimes it was for a blood draw or an ultrasound, or maybe it was surgery for egg retrieval, or something entirely different… We had lost all control, all spontaneity was gone from this process and it took a lot of getting used to.
Somehow, it was all back again… In order to adopt an infant, with our only goal in the world to love, care, support, and raise that child to the very best of our abilities, we were once again going to be flooded with paperwork, questionnaires, interviews, appointments, reviews, studies, and analysis. Someone was going to have to intervene in our hope of being parents once again, and it was a strange, strange, feeling.
This time though, something was different. In truth, our adoption specialist was there to support us with all of the paperwork and it was ultimately for the requirements of the Fos-Adopt process in the State of California. The only person that would truly be intervening this time would be a birthparent, who would select us from a choice of prospective adoptive parents, carefully chosen and reviewed to ensure a warm, caring, safe, and supportive family environment. This person would select us knowing that substantial investigations, reviews, checklists, education, and steps had been completed with the sole purpose of ensuring confidence in the process and commitment to the child above all. Suddenly, the list was a little bit smaller, more manageable, and completely attainable in our drive to become parents again.
The rest of the day in seminar was enjoyable, meeting the other prospective adoptive parents, working with the staff on understanding the information shared and learning how the legal process and the adoption steps actually happened and we had the privilege of meeting two birthmoms and two sets of adoptive families, with their kids in tow. Everyone answered questions truthfully and honestly, and ultimately connected with each of us, helping us to understand that the journey is worth it for everyone involved.
We left that day, drained (it was a long and intense day!), but very satisfied. We made the right choice and the path was known. Now it was time to start making the list of requirements into a reality of deliverables…