Adoption is soooooooooo easy

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Every person or couple struggling to have a baby has heard the same advice. In fact, the advice never ends….and it is usually horrible.

I am not against getting advice. Help me pick out the color of my couch or the flowers for my front yard. I’d love that.

However, I needed a little more space when it came to whether or not adoption was right for us and how to maneuver through the process. We didn’t publically discuss our troubles with fertility until I started this blog a few months ago. Most of our friends and family had no idea of the struggles. We (for whatever reason) kept the fertility problem close to the vest…so when it came to adoption, Craig and I were like a steel vault. We didn’t tell anyone we were considering adoption because it would provide a glimmer of hope….and so far we hadn’t been successful with any other baby-making activity.

I don’t know why….but starting the adoption process and not ending up with a baby seemed like Failure – Level Two.

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If anything can guarantee a child it is adoption.  Yep. It’s that simple.

Walk into Target, select the one you want, put it in the shopping cart, on the conveyer belt, load into your car and BAM! You’re a parent.

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There are numerous routes on the adoption journey…and many of those end with beautiful, happy families. We know several couples who have adopted and can’t imagine how they could be any happier. We aren’t adoption experts……but this is our experience and 3 options we considered.

Adopt through Catholic Charities

We started here. Just like the maze of infertility…there is a web of processes for adoption…an entire world that no one even knows exists…unless you are one of the *ah hem* lucky ones with fertility issues. One of the women at Catholic Charities realized that we were clueless and walked us through a high level of our options.

Adopt through the foster care system

We had already been warned that the emotion of adoption was going to add a whole new layer to the fertility issues…but were told that adopting through the foster care system would test our patience and strength at every turn.

In the state of Louisiana, you cannot be approved to adopt without also being approved to foster. I think it is called dual certification. I was adamant that I didn’t want to foster…I could not have a child in my home only to have it yanked from me…my emotions were still too raw at this point.

However, to get to the adoption finish line we had to attend classes on “how to adopt/foster”. Our first one was early on a Saturday morning. We were the first to arrive (ok, we were 30 minutes early). We sat with several other people in the room….the woman conducting the class silently walked past the 6 of us and stood at a podium 20 feet away and began a lecture as if we were learning verb conjugation.

I was ready to hear about expanding our family, bringing love to a child who needed, etc. I was on the edge of my seat to hear her first words that would bring us to the finish line….a child. She held up a piece of paper….I leaned forward trying to see if it was a letter from a child, a picture of a happy family, etc. Nope. “To be reimbursed for mileage for your (3 mile drive from my house), fill out this form and send it to blah blah blah.” I could hear Craig exhale next to me because he knew what I was thinking….and terrified of what bit of wisdom/feedback/sarcasm/obvious irritation I would inject into this display.

I sat quietly (no, really!!!) and listened to a few facts. We weren’t allowed to have X number of kids living in the same room, we couldn’t have a child if we didn’t have a fenced in yard, we would be required to allow “inspectors” to come to our home to make sure we weren’t running some type of seedy operation out of our kitchen, etc.

Everyone in the room was interested in foster care…so in order not to slow down the Q&A session, we stayed after class so I could get my 5 typed pages of adoption related questions answered. I wanted someone to listen to me, hear our plight….provide the teeniest glimmer of light after this tunnel of blah. But nope. After years of being poked, prodded, put on medications to make my body do things, put on medications to make my body NOT do things, etc. I was told that I “just had to be patient”.

I am not sure if I blacked out at that point, but I remember climbing back into the car covered in tears and hearing Craig ask me over and over again WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT HER WHEN SHE IS TRYING TO HELP?

Adopt through a private agency.

This was by far the best experience.  I was talking with someone I trusted (I knew her personally). I wish we had started with her….however, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We didn’t know that every medical test, procedure, etc wouldn’t work. Had we known though, it really wouldn’t have mattered. We initially didn’t have the financial means to even consider a $30,000 adoption fee.

By the time we found this option, we were better off financially (granted, $30,000 was still an enormous amount of money). But….We. Were. Exhausted.  We had spent 15 years researching, trying option after option, etc. I didn’t have any energy left and didn’t have any more tears to cry.

Foot in mouth….the moron’s definition of a family

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In a casual conversation a few days ago, I was talking with someone about careers and laughing about how priorities change. Ten years ago we were climbing the corporate ladder and now we just want to go home and sit in the backyard. How things change! When we were wrapping up he said “I know you’d like to get home to your family….I mean, not your family….but to your husband.” He caught himself when he said family and tried to correct it.

Why would there be a need to correct that!? Uhhhhhh…..I thought that my husband and I were a family. Aren’t we!? I was surprised. Does that mean because we don’t have children together that we aren’t a family? Does that mean every childless couple is just that? A couple?? And they can never be more?

So that got me thinking.

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Sandy’s official definition of family:

Group o’ humans joined together through emotional ties; who you can count on at any time, day or night; who care about your existence and will fight to protect you; who know the good and bad about you but still love you; who matter to you; who you want to call when you have a really good day or really bad day.

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There are no right or wrong definitions of a family, right? I think we can all agree that blood relatives are not the best indication of family. Maybe on paper, yes. But in reality!? Nope. Some people have blood relatives who aren’t even on their radar. Read the soon-to-be-famous-Sandy’s-official-definition-of-family again. Those who meet that criteria could be extended family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or covered in fur or feathers.

The point is that we shouldn’t define ourselves by what someone else calls us. We make that distinction.

So…do I have a family? Yes. And I am going meet that family at Outback for dinner. Table for two.

You want me to stop the cat lady references? Right meow?

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  • Single, childless man: Sexy, mysterious, worldly, available, distinguished, desirable.
  • Single, childless woman: Shrew, cat lady, barren, sad, alone.
  • Single, childless woman with a cat: “I feel sorry for her. She must be so lonely.”
  • Single, childless man with a dog: “He’s having so much fun…walking man’s best friend.”

When did the cat lady become a thing? And why is it synonymous with older woman without a child?

In a previous post I shared my experience at the Gateway-Women’s Reignite Retreat where I met with 12 other childless women from around the country. The first day of the retreat was gut wrenching but important. On the second day we each created a plan to thrive in our life as opposed to just “existing” – even though we were each living in this, the unexpected and undesired normal. We also addressed the stigma of childlessness that we all know exists…but don’t talk about. And how as someone ages it gets worse. And cruel.

Shrew | Cat lady | Barren | Sad | Lonely | The witch who lives in the shoe | Old lady with crooked fingers | Will steal children | | Spends her social security money on cat food

The older, childless female characters in Disney movies aren’t even shown in a positive light. Maleficint, the evil queen from Snow White, Ursula from the Little Mermaid, the witch in Hansel and Gretel, Cruella de vil, etc. What do they all have in common? Older, single, childless women. <Me, trying to think of an older Disney character who has kids> Oh! Cinderella’s stepmother has daughters.  AUGH!! SHE IS EVIL TOO! See what I mean!?

You’ve cat to be kitten me right meow.

I am not on a rant. I don’t even own a cat. It’s just a strange phenomenon that I could never get my arms around…..but it seems that the mere existence of Whiskers changes the game.

Forget Disney movies. Moving forward I plan to be less Cruella and more Sigourney Weaver’s character “Ripley from Aliens”. An older, childless woman who kicks ass and saves the world. And OMG. She has a cat.