‘Twas Halloween this past weekend (as you must well know). We had a good time with all the Halloweeny-festivities but also managed to be quite productive. Mike bought the paint for Girly’s room. Baby’s room. Sister’s room…I’m still not sure yet how we should refer to “her” until we have a name…and a child that accompanies that name. He also got the boys’ box springs wrapped in plastic and put up in the garage. (We don’t need them for their new loft beds). Mike cut a new wall/wood brace (in which we must reinstall the gate at the top of the stairs). He also put together the crib!!! The man was on a roll.
Huge news: our FBI clearance came in (phew!), and that’s SUPER fast (guess we’re just SUPER clean), so this means that the clock is now clicking for Joy to finish our home study (you have to have everything done within 60 days, I believe). But because Joy ROCKS she wants to get this thing done so we can get ready to wait, so to speak. It’s looking like my optimistic goal of January 1st for being licensed and ready to roll might actually be mid-Decemberish. Woohoo!
Now here’s an interesting thing that I must bring to your attention: while the identity of our daughter remains a mystery to us for now, once we have her some aspects of “her” will have to remain a mystery to you, my readers/family/friends. Let me explain: so there are two ways this adoption could go: A.) We’re picked by a birth mom and receive the relinquished infant or B.) We are shown foster babies/children that are legally free for adoption and we find one that is the right fit. If A. happens it works a little more like a traditional adoption…we most likely get to name her and have her from a much younger age. (It is also the most expensive route). If B. happens, we are legally required to call her by her birth name until we legally adopt her (at which point we can choose to change her name if it seems appropriate). Also, because she is technically a foster child until the adoption is finalized (usually after six months at the earliest), the state mandates that no photos can be placed on-line. This means that if B. happens, I can’t put pictures of our daughter on my blog or facebook or our family website until she is legally ours. That’ll be hard, I know.
Also, depending on the birth mom’s situation (for possibility A. or possibility B.) and out of respect for our daughter and ‘her story/ identity,’ we may choose to not share much of her past history/life before she came to live with us. This just all depends on the specific, different details that we can’t begin to imagine, but it’s a good possibility. There is so much about adoption that forces you to change the way you perceive and view things, and some of this could – to a certain extent – change a little bit how I even write my blog. Obviously I must stay true to myself (and to you!); however, there will be some things that I’ll need to state carefully or not at all.
Another thing with adoption is the fact that you’re judged on your likability – by potential birth moms and your ability to parent – by the agency and state. The agency obviously thinks that we’re good enough parents to adopt (phew!) and with their home study document (40 pages about us!), they try to paint a clear picture of who we are to the state social workers who are trying to find the best fit for their foster kids. The other thing that we have/get to do is to create two versions of a Family Profile. One is for the state with some pictures of us and our home and a basic introductory letter. The other one (the one I find a little more creative and fun) is a Family Profile for the birth moms to see. Basically it’s like a job application – pick us! Pick us! And I feel a lot of pressure to make it pretty, and creative, and potentially even crafty (something that I am so not a fan of or skilled at doing). As Joy – our adoption specialist – put it, “I don’t want you to think of it as a competition or a popularity contest or beauty pageant, BUT birth moms are shown about fifty of these and you should try to do your best to stand out from the crowd.” Um, no pressure.
Part of the Profile is the “Dear Birth Parent” letter. Adoptive parents know all about this – how, on one page, do you help someone make the most difficult choice in their lives? How do you convince them that you, are in fact, the most perfect, wonderful people and they should place their child’s life entirely in your hands and in your care? How does a birth mom even begin to make this choice?! Can you imagine? Looking through fifty books, narrowing it down and then finally just picking – based on paper – the people that you want to parent YOUR child, a person that’s currently living inside of YOU. Do you think there are some that just go eeny-meeny-miney-mo? I bet there are.
So, the question is: how to stand out? First of all, Joy did make me feel pretty good when she said, “But you guys shouldn’t have a problem ‘cuz you’re young and cute. My young and cute families almost always get picked.” OK, so we’re young and cute, that helps, BUT…here’s what I was thinking: it’s a given that it would be REALLY good to avoid the standard “Dear Birth Parent, We thank you so much for considering us. We’re honored and flattered and can’t begin to imagine the difficulty of this decision…Your sacrifice means the world to us, blahblahblah.” Obviously expressing gratitude and compassion is important, but by the 34th profile, you know that that Birth Mom (who may even, potentially, be in the hospital IN labor) is just skimming anything that looks like that.
I’m open to suggestions. Here are the two ideas I’m currently working with:
1.) “Once upon a time, there was a boy named Mike and a girl named Jenny. They met in college and fell in love...” It would be a story version of us, who we are, what’s important to us, important details (religious preference, family hobbies, values, general overview of our home/neighborhood, life, etc.) Everybody likes a story especially one with a “and they lived happily ever after” ending, though we’d need the birth mom’s help for writing the ending. Ahhh, touching. HOWEVER, I worry that this one would even seem too wordy to the poor tired Birth Mom who’s already read 17 profiles. So…
2.) “The Top Five Reasons…Why We Could Be Your Dream Family.” With a more bullet-point/countdown approach, just five doable paragraphs, we could present a theme-based, organized view of US. I don’t know, but I think this one may have the most potential. I’ve actually already written it though I’m sure I’ll edit it a thousand times. Joy thought it was a good idea, basically less is more, but you still want all the details to be there.
Those are my current thoughts, any ideas?! Let me know!
Along with the letter, we provide a little family photo album – us doing fun stuff and apparently looking drop-dead gorgeous (well, it wouldn’t hurt)! My dad suggested we just get some new picture frames and use the fake family photos that come with them….um, whatcha saying dad, we aren’t attractive enough for ya?! Talk about the ultimate judging a book by its cover…a book that’s going to raise your kid!! (OK, obviously a book can’t raise children, but I’m just trying to apply the expression here. Gimme a break.).
How, HOW do you convince someone to GIVE you their baby???? And HOW will she ever pick?? It’s quite the choice to have to make.