I’ve spent much of the past few days pouring over adoption blogs and working on the questionnaire we need to fill out for the agency. I hope you will all bear with me as I’ll be posting less – probably just twice a week – while we get this paperwork finished.
When other people describe the adoption approval process, I hear the term “invasive” a lot. Honestly, it hasn’t bothered me so much. Yes, we didn’t need to get anyone’s approval to get pregnant with M or J (unless you count my doctors’), but I understand that background checks help ensure kids are getting placed in safe homes. The personal questions are stressful to try to answer, but I understand why the agency asks them. So, I don’t view them as too invasive, I just worry about how to answer “correctly.” Yah, yah, I know agencies aren’t looking for the “perfect couple,” but it’s hard not to feel like they are when you’re in the midst of it!
What types of questions are we asked? (These are not word for word, just general topics I’ve seen come up.) What are our strengths and weaknesses personally and in our marriage? What are our relationships with our extended family like? What health issues do we have? How do we feel about adoption? Nothing too scary, just questions that require thought.
I’ve also been doing a lot of reading on adoption ethics. One thing I see birth mothers in particular writing about is coercion: new mothers being pressured into placing their child for adoption. This can happen on purpose by social workers (I read about one case where a mother was told she’d be arrested if she didn’t sign the relinquishment forms) or by family (parents forcing their teenage daughter to place), or in more subtle ways, like by the language that hopeful adoptive parents or social workers use. For example, I’ve learned not to use the term birth mother, or even really prospective birth mother, until a woman has actually signed the placement papers. Until that point, she is an expectant mother, or a mother, because she can choose to parent up until the relinquishment papers are signed. That makes perfect sense to me, but I had defaulted to using birth mother because I saw that in a lot of (apparently outdated) adoption literature. Promises of a very open adoption can also be used to persuade a mother, with adoptive parents then not always fulfilling their promises of letters, pictures, or visits.
I really want to make sure that Mark and I go about this process in a way that is respectful and ethical. Words matter! But, I’m also trying to temper how much reading on the subject that I do. There are many different opinions about what constitutes ethical adoption and I don’t want to be second-guessing myself so much that I lose the joy and excitement of the process.
Right now, I’m feeling a big mix of excitement and nervousness!