Not sure if you heard the news, but Waity Katie is pregnant. Yes, that’s right, the Duchess of Cambridge is about 12 weeks pregnant and I heard about it yesterday, between calls to adoption agencies and adoption attorneys, from the bane of my current existence-Facebook. One of my FB friends actually embedded her own pregnancy announcement in the Duchess’s – double whammy! I can’t tell if the daily onslaught of pregnancy announcements, ultrasound photos, babygrams, and birth notices is a function of age, or acute awareness, or both? Either way, I am really looking forward to the day that it doesn’t inspire dizziness and tachycardia. But for now, I’m taking a break from the most conspicuous (and mutable) source.
I thought about deleting my Facebook account, and asked R if that was a rash move. She said yes. More specifically, she said Facebook has more than 1 billion active users (a theoretical 1/7 of the world’s entire population) and it’s likely to be a fixture of my social life for the foreseeable future. If I can’t delete it, I can at least ignore it. For now.
In other news, Amara 2.0 was kind of like a sudden and unexpected descent during flight. In a nutshell, the state has intensified its efforts to keep children out of the foster care system, which means fewer young children are available. Therefore, “it’s very competitive” (the word “market” is silent here), and more risky for would-be adoptive parents who must prepare for and accept referrals while understanding that the probability of reunification is increasing. Hopefully this is a win-win for the children, but it smacks of lose-lose for us.
So, we revisited the idea of adopting internationally as “single” women. I tried approaching WACAP, the mothership of adoption in these parts; this time I reframed my question to make it clear that R or I would adopt as a single female, rather than as an unmarried gay couple. I got more or less the same response back, from the same social worker (NB: emphasis mine):
Thank you for contacting WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) about adoption! Please let me know if you are interested in receiving a packet of information in the mail.
At WACAP, we often work with unmarried couples. WACAP also accepts homestudies of single applications; however we require that the information in the homestudy reflects you and your relationship, and of course we need to know the second person is fully committed to parenting. Therefore, WACAP couldn’t send your homestudy to a foreign country because it will have information about your same sex partner.
Our US Kids Program is open for couples who are in a committed same-sex relationship. I have attached our US Kids Program Overview, which will provide you detailed information about the adoption process, wait times and fees.
The issue with the US Kids program is, in our experience, most same-sex couples are matched with slightly older children (usually 5+ years old.) The reason for this is, state social workers usually have quite a few married couples looking for young healthy children. This means singles and same-sex couples often need to be open to a wide age range. It is great you are open to siblings because there are many sibling sets available in the foster care system.
All of the kids who are placed through this program have come into foster care because of abuse or neglect of some kind as that is the reason the state is involved. With the youngest children, this is generally some kind of substance abuse, drugs and or alcohol, so any families considering these young children need to be educated about the potential risks and impacts and ready to accept these issues.
This underlying message of this email is pretty similar to the message we heard at Amara, although at Amara there were no restrictions about the age of child we could request or hope for. But the theme of all correspondence from the adoption agencies that will even consider our application is that we cannot expect (or hope for) a healthy infant. And the subtext is that we shouldn’t. I hadn’t really processed that until yesterday when I talked with Anne, a local social worker with years of experience helping families place or adopt children. I sent her a short summary of our story along with a list of the sort of infant/child health issues we feel capable of dealing with (Deafness, cleft palate, missing limb, HIV) to let her know that we are open to a child of any race and either sex who has mild or manageable health problems. Anne replied quickly, suggesting we speak via phone. When we did, the first question she asked me was
“What kind of child do you hope for?”
“A, I mean, ideally, what sort of child to you hope to bring home?”
Answer: “Ideally, we’d love a healthy newborn.”
“Okay! That’s perfectly normal. It’s what every family hopes for, whether they give birth or adopt. It’s a reasonable, normal, healthy expectation.”
Now please imagine my hypothetical airliner leveling out. I stopped walking and listened. Anne asked some more questions and I answered them honestly. She suggested that we consider an independent adoption, forgoing the traditional “middle man” (an adoption agency like WACAP or Amara) and finding a birth mother/birth parents on our own by leveraging our social networks and using the interwebs to market ourselves as prospective parents. As I explained this to a friend last night, he said (with a dash of irony) “Like Juno, right?” Yes! Like Juno. We could put an ad in the Penny Saver and see how it goes?