Lessson 1: Validating My Family
The process of adoption happens on many levels and involves deep reflection, heaps of paperwork, and patience. It also is a process in which prospective adoptive parents must open themselves to inspection and uncomfortable probing.
When I think back to our first and then subsequent and mandatory home studies to process the adoptions of our youngest children I reflect on two questions that Mark and I were asked each time. With the other parent out of the room we were asked:
“Why do you want to adopt?”
“How do you plan on raising this child?”
I was nervous, unsure about answering such broad questions. Were there special or correct answers that I was was supposed to give her?
Mark and I hadn’t discussed how to navigate the social worker and we certainly didn’t know what to expect the first time. The only way I could answer was from my heart. I wanted another child and I planned to raise this child the same as any other I was mother to—with unconditional love, patience and compassion.
My OB had never asked me why I wanted the baby I carried in my womb. No one had ever asked me how I planned to raise the child that my body nurtured. Why would someone ask why I wanted to adopt? Why would someone feel the need to ask me how I was going to raise my child?
Although this was part of her job, I look back and now see that our social worker was, unintentionally, providing me with the first experience of validating my family. Her questions lit the spark that would soon become my candle of advocacy and the need to continue educating myself and others—for my kids, our family and adoption. She was kind and gentle with her assigned tasks of questioning and guiding. A lesson learned and never forgotten…