Thursday, August 20, 2009

Adoption: Looking Back - Looking Ahead

A year ago today we went to court and were granted "placement" of our sweet baby girl. That hearing basically made us legal guardians of Gianna with the intent to adopt her. In the state of Louisiana, this the first (legal) step toward adoption.
(Gianna on her Placement Day) Then, there's a YEAR LONG waiting period. Most people get nervous when I tell them this, with their first question being, "Is there a chance you could lose her?" (That's an understandable thought - especially after we survived a previous horrible court experience losing the two children that we parented for six weeks.)

The answer is no. They state really is making sure WE are wanting to do this and are committed to this child forever and ever. Amen. Basically, it's just a formality and the year is a customary waiting period for all adoptive families in our state. We are not on trial nor do we have to jump through hoops to try and "keep" her. All the hoop jumping is done prior to children coming into the home. (I take that back, we have to endure another home study - this time by OCS.)

If you aren't aware of all the prep-work involved in becoming "approved" and acquiring a home study...let me just say that it's quite an undertaking. The paperwork and home study part of the process is grueling, intense, somewhat lengthy, exposing all vulnerability.

You are subject to intense examination of your home, your marriage, your medical history, relationship histories, family histories, financial situation, educational background, mental/emotional state, reason for choosing adoption, infertility journey (if applicable), parenting philosophies, strengths and weaknesses about ourselves and our spouse, opinions about various kinds of adoptions and what type of children we are open to parenting, and things you never thought you'd share with anyone other than your spouse.

You must have references, reference checks, background checks, fingerprints sent to local, state and federal government, medical exams, pages and pages of paper work, hours and hours of inquisition (home study visits). We had to write our autobiography (ours was 50 pages typed - single space - I'm sure everyone isn't as wordy as me.) We were questioned on all this information as a couple and separately by a social worker (than heavens ours was a dream - and now a friend.) And then we have to wait for a report on our "readiness" which is shared with the attorney or adoption agency and the judge hearing the case. Yep, even more people to be "all up in your business."

(Our attorney who would move heaven and earth for this baby girl - and any other child.)
People (usually close friends and family) often are angered that we had to endure such scrutiny. Personally, I think it made us better people and better parents. As someone who has advocated for children most of her life, I really do understand why the process is in place. I was never angry about having to go through such an exposing process. However, I was/am frustrated with the fact that everyone else becoming parents doesn't. (Primarily those people making reckless choices in their lives.) Can you imagine what a difference that would make in this world if everyone had this preparation before becoming parents?

Several people, in an effort to give me support/comfort, have told me, "You are so lucky you didn't have to go through labor." I know they meant well, but there is a lot that they may not have considered. In many cases, the road to DECIDE to adopt is filled with difficulty, pain and uncertainty. If infertility was an issue - that is a consuming experience that is full of pain, questions, frustrations, etc. If miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, still birth, infant death, failed adoption(s) etc. were issues - the pain attached to those experiences is enormous.

Once the decision is made to adopt, then the labor really begins. Filling out the paperwork and autobiography was mentally exhausting. I told my social worker that if would be happy if I never had to write or read anything about myself ever ahead. (And here I am typing a blog post. Isn't life funny.) I can't even begin to describe what the "waiting" is like....wondering when (and many times IF) that call would ever come. And, of course, with domestic adoption there's that ever-present fear that you'll deal with a birthmother who changes her mind either before, at birth or after the child's been in your home and part of your family.
So, with a wink and a smile, my response to those people deeming me "lucky" for clepping out of labor is, "Mine may not have looked anything like yours, but you be can sure that I've experienced labor - and it lasted a whole lot longer than you might imagine."
In just a few weeks. (September 14, 2009) we will be heading back to family court for the Finalization of Gianna's Adoption. Here name will legally be the one we gave her...."Gianna Elyse." (Now, it is the one her birthmother gave her.) A new birth certificate will be issued with our names as her parents. (Can you believe we don't have a birth certificate?) That will allow us to apply for a social security card. Who would have ever thought that a birth certificate and social security card would mean so much?

The only real disappointment attached to this exciting upcoming court experience is that we have to go before the judge who presided over the unjust adoption nightmare we endured earlier last year. It was very messy and, without going into details, very much of a legal and moral outrage. We couldn't get a different judge due to some technical complications. So, for whatever prayers you can offer our way, we'd be most grateful. I'm just going to have to put on my "big girl panties" and hold my head high and make the day a memorable one for my daughter and family (without being held in contempt of court.) :)
(The judge who presided over our placement hearing last year. I actually went to high school with her. I WISH we had her this go 'round.)

I would imagine that my experience in becoming a mother is just like most mother's. I'm pretty sure many of us would say, "The process was long, challenging and arduous, but oh-so worth it!"

We feel blessed to have been gifted with this journey toward adoption.
Looking forward to September 14th, Baby Girl!

* My prayers go out to all those women/couples out there who are journeying toward parenthood and who are enduring decisions, frustations and waiting.


  1. WOW Maria, What an amazing post. You are so special and Gianna is so lucky to have you as her mom. Will be keeping all of you in my prayers!

  2. Maria,
    My niece and her husband just adopted their first child and will be going through this as well. What a little bundle of joy Carter is! I'll say a little prayer for you. What a special day this will be for you and your family! Gianna is such a cutie pie.


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