On Adoption

The Goose and I worked hard to make sure we were in a good place. She has an excellent, well-paying job. I likewise have a very solid career rolling. We have a spacious house in a good location. We have been getting various things paid of and a savings built up. We have gotten used to living together again after her time at school and getting work experience.

We have also spent a pretty fair amount of time planning our future. We have discussed options involving having children and being childless. The first has become very much our preferred condition and ideally we would like 2 children, a boy and a girl, though that is not set in stone.

We have talked long and deeply about our child-rearing ideals. We both are in agreement we want a well-rounded child/children who takes up an instrument, takes up a sport and is interested in their studies. Naturally we are aware the child's inclinations and abilities have some bearing on this, but our guidance would matter. We want to be sure they have the opportunities.

Along with this has been the admission certain things have to change. My noted food finickiness would be one shining example. For the sake of our children I have made marked changes and while certain foods will never be on the list of favorites...or even things I like...in the interest of setting an example I consume them on occasion. And if we had children it would be constant.

That is just an example of the changes we have made or are prepared to make in the interest of giving our kids a great start to life.

We have discussed various educational choices. Potential family activities. Trips. Even what room we would take for our bedroom until the children reached certain appropriate ages.

And as anyone who knows us can tell you, we are already well-stocked with many pro-child items. My movie shelf alone is a child's dream...lots of Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon, Incredibles, Finding Nemo type movies....one might almost argue we already have a child. Me.

But I like that kind of stuff and will not apologize for it. I would much rather watch an innocent, clean, humorous movie than a blood-soaked scream fest.

We have also discussed certain things our parents did that we liked, some that we might have wished changed. We have observed other young parents and more experienced parents and taken into account various factors.

Obviously our goal is to raise happy, healthy children who have the physical, mental and financial capabilities to become whoever they want to be. Ideally we would be involved in their schoolwork, guide them to take care of them physically through a sport or more, have a musical interest so that later in life they are prepared to go where they want, do what they want and have a wonderful life.

Regardless, we have, as should be evident, spent a great deal of time examining our options. Unfortunately a combination of factors means we are highly unlikely to ever have natural-born children of our own.

But that does not change either our desire for children nor our belief we could be excellent parents given the opportunity.

I have recently been looking into the steps necessary for adoption and a few very clear lines have quickly become evident.

First off, by the time children reach 5 or 6 years old they have often been put in a very difficult position. Many have been abused, others have developmental issues, still others have developed a "I want to go to a place with few rules" explicitly stated mindset.

My heart goes out to these children. They deserve everything we want to provide. However, they are already deeply ingrained with certain patterns that we want to discourage and I am not sure that our lack of experience would allow us to be the parents they need, nor are we prepared to start in that far along.

I am wording this poorly and I apologize for that. It is not that I would love such a child any less, it simply is not where we want to start out.

Second, many others are in even more difficult straights. Children with the need of 24/7 care, as many are, I feel for them. Very much. And again it is not that I would not love and care for them. However, that is not what we are seeking to do.

At the risk of sounding even more selfish and self-centered, I would love to have a son I could bike with, play catch with, enjoy watching his guitar playing get better and better, maybe play some chess, tennis, whatever...that I could sit down and discuss his studies with.

Does that mean if by some miracle we had a child who say...could not walk that I would love him any less? Absolutely not. A child is a miracle and blessing and we would show the same love and care towards that child as we would one born with an incredibly high IQ who turned out to be the next Jimmi Hendrix/Elvis/Michael Jordan/Einstein rolled into one.

What it does mean is that if we are going to "pick" a child rather than have one through childbirth we have a preference to start with a young child who is healthy.

I feel awful typing that. It sounds very selfish. I feel awful that I cannot provide the time, care, and loving home that so many of these children need.

But I can't.

Here is the thing. When I go to adopt, I am making the explicit statement, "I am choosing you to love, to guide, to mold, to be my family, to carry on my name and legacy".

That is not contingent upon the child being healthy, developmentally challenged either physically or mentally. If we got a healthy child, natural or adopted, and tragedy struck it would not change how I felt about them.

I should say as an aside that I have several friends and relatives who are adopted. I even vaguely know who some of the family members are...I am not sure if it is to my credit or shame if I say that, while I know some of the Strands were adopted, for example, I cannot say which ones. Because I don't care. To me Gloria, Ben, Kent, Jason are my family just as much as Shelli, Trudi, and Lori, for example. There is no difference to me between Dale and Brenda, between adopted and natural born. I do not care who was adopted into the family and who was born into it. They are family. No difference to me. I cannot emphasize that enough.

So having already come out as a selfish jerk who wants to pick a healthy child to start, let me make myself look even worse.

I don't want a child with a lot of interference. What I mean is that many, many, many of these children come with the warning, "Joe is in counseling and that will need to continue" or similar statements that come out to "the state will be heavily involved in the rearing of your child".

I have zero interest in having case workers constantly around. I have no interest in the state determining how, when, or where my child will be raised.

A parent has responsibilities towards a child and the more people involved the more difficult it is to do those in the way the parent believes is right.

This is also one reason I am not particularly interested in an "open adoption" where the "birth" parent is still involved.

I understand the wonderful work being done there. For many people that is the right choice. It simply is not the right choice for me.

Adoption can be a very sensitive topic. I remember hearing as a kid other kids telling each other as a pejorative "you are adopted". Here is the thing; I consider it not a pejorative but a compliment. What I hear is "they love you so much they took you for their own".

The Goose and I have talked long about how, when and why to let our potential children know they are adopted. There are reasons for this, including medical and their right to know. It is a very serious topic and one we have an agreement on that is flexible depending on circumstances.

It is important to me. I had a friend growing up whose mother told her often, "You were an accident". She was devastated by that saying and it led to many, many problems.

Our children will never be allowed to know anything other than unreserved love and they are greatly desired. By the time the time arrives to let them know they were adopted, not natural born I want it so deeply ingrained in them that they are an indispensable part of a loving family that it will not matter to them that the blood is not the same. We may not be linked by heredity but we are in every other way. Inextricably, irrevocably, without reservation or regret. No more and no less valued and loved than any other child we may or may not have.

I know adopting from foster care is often mentioned. I think you can see from above why I am not overly on board with that. It is not that I do not want those children to have long, happy, healthy lives...it is just that we may not be the right match. They already KNOW what I want them to learn in the proper time and way, they already have other influences in their lives.

Along with that, we have kind of established an artificial "we would like 4 years or younger" child...and prefer babies for a variety of reasons, including many in this screed.

We have talked about children from other countries and it may turn out that is what we end up doing. The Goose actively wants a baby from China. I would be good with that, although it would alter the timing of the adoption conversation obviously.

There are so many things to consider. We will be actively pursuing this year. I welcome all comments, advice, and even accept heavy doses of criticisms for the parts you think insensitive or selfish.

We also are very, very open...if you know someone having an abortion who would consider giving up for adoption instead, please let us know, we know we can provide a wonderful, loving home and very much want to.

I hope you read between the lines and do not think me hateful or spiteful. It is meant to be the opposite, but this is a topic many people have very strong feelings on and I am sure some of you will not care for our approach. Hopefully most of you understand where we are coming from.

Ultimately if we are able to provide a home for one or more children and can be, if not wonderful parents we wish to be then at least adequate to give that kid or kids a great start in life then it will be a wonderful thing. If not, I will understand, albeit with disappointment.


Pamela Holt said...

Just want to let you know that we've had some of the same conversations. And, incidentally, I have vague notions that some of the cousins might be adopted or whatever, but what difference could that possibly make in the relationship unless difference is what is desired?

I'm hoping that your family grows-or doesn't (can't tell you how much my heart broke typing that)- according to God's will and timing.

Darth Weasel said...

Appreciate the thoughts, both Pam and the person who replied privately on Facecrack due to comment reply issues.