Jack and Jill Adopt

A Mommy Daddy Blog

September 29, 2006


A week ago, American Family posted about the security and being a Stay-At-Home Mom. It was an interesting post and made me think I should write a little about our plans for child care when Kit comes home.

Jill is the bread-winner in our household. For while when we were struggling more I was actually making a little more, but since Jill finished grad school, she's been making what we both use to make combined. Add in her benefits and it only makes sense for her to stay at work when the baby comes home (luckily her schedule gives her summers off, a few weeks of vacation during the rest of the year and no late nights).

This means at the very least, I'm going to be a part-time Stay-At-Home Dad, and depending on how things work out, maybe full-time. I have mixed feelings about this. Well, maybe not quite mixed - about ninety-five perscent of me is excited about the idea of being home and taking care of Kit. The other five percent is self-conscious about not bringing home the bacon and a little worried about the idea of not having any income of my own. The SAHD thing isn't completely alien to me. My dad occassionally stayed home with us kids when work was scarce and my mom was the one with the reliable income and benefits. The difference was my dad did work that he hated for years to help support the family, while that small part of me feels like I'll just be slacking off if I don't have a paying job. Of course I realize taking care of Kit is going to be a full-time job in itself, but there's a little old-fashioned male guilt playing in my head too.

September 25, 2006

The Referral

Once all the paperwork was finished, all we could do was wait for the referral. Our agency told us it would take from 1-4 months for our referral. What an agonizing wait! However, we were lucky. We got our paperwork in on July 24th and received our referral on August 28th.

Jack was at work when the phone rang. I could tell from the caller ID that it was our caseworker, S, from our agency.
"I have good news from Guatemala!" She said.

She told us that Kit had been born on July 30th (which is exactly 6 months from my birthday!), that he was healthy and living in an Hogar (orphanage). She said she was Fed Ex-ing us the medical information and a picture. I called up Jack and said "It's a boy!" It was the most exciting moment of my life so far. Then I called my parents.

The next day Jack didn't have to work so we waited all day for the Fed Ex truck. Every time a truck drove by we ran to look out the window. The truck finally arrived at about 1:30. I gotta say seeing that picture of my son was incredible. It was hard for me to realize that he was actually a real person, alive and in this world, but I didn't know him yet. Along with two photos, the referral included some brief medical information, height and weight, and Kit's birth certificate. The birth certificate listed Kit's mother, but had no information on his father.

Although this was an incredibly wonderful, joyful time for us, I thought of Kit's first mother and how she must be feeling so sad. He was only a month old when we found out about him and I thought that his mother was probably not even fully recovered physically, and I'm sure the emotional scars will last forever.

I would like to meet her someday, but I don't know if that will be possible. Adoptions in Guatemala are essentially closed right now. However, I think about the fact that US adoptions were closed 30 years ago but people have been able to search and find each other and heal themselves that way. Maybe when Kit is older things will have changed enough that he will be able to meet and have a relationship with his first mother.

Well Jack talked about the DNA which was the next step, so that brings us up to the present. Right now we are waiting for Family Court in Guatemala and then the PGN (Attorney General's Office). We hope to visit Kit in November and go to pick him up somewhere between February and April. I can't wait to hold him in my arms!

September 21, 2006

The Great Paper Chase

When I first started investigating international adoptions, I had a very unrealistic expectation of how long it would take. I saw the estimates for Guatemalan adoption taking 5-7 months and I thought, Hey, we'll have a baby by next summer!" Now, 8 months later, we still have 5-7 months to go! What the sources I looked at didn't tell me is that it would take 5-7 months after the referral. They didn't tell me how long it would take for a homestudy (which was unusually long in our case) or for getting together our dossier.

The dossier is a huge packet of documents that all have to be notarized, certified, and authenticated. It took us several months to get all that together. We had to have birth and marriage certificates, letters of employment, health letters from the doctor, proof from the cops that we aren't criminals, two letters of reference, fifteen photographs of our house, family and ourselves and a whole bunch of legal documents like Power of Attorney and some others I don't even remember. Most of these documents had to be notarized, and let me tell you, it's a pain to get a notarized letter from a doctor. After we had gathered everything, we had to have the notarizations certified by the county and the state. We drove all over the state to get this done because I didn't trust the mail, and I wanted it to go more quickly. After everything was certified, we had to send it to the Guatemalan consulate to be authenticated. Each time we got a document notarized, certified, and authenticated, we had to pay a fee.

I don't want to discourage anyone, but I want to be honest: If I had known before I started how much work it would be, I might not have done it. However, by the time we found out exactly what was required for the dossier, we had already invested a lot of time and money in the process. I'm telling you this now because I know that when I have Kit in my arms I will forget how much work it was. I think it's the same kind of thing that happens to women who give birth. They forget the pain and decide to do it again.

To tell you the truth, Jack and I already talk about what we're going to do for our second adoption.

DNA Test

We should have posted this earlier, but we received the results of the maternity test given to Kit and his first mother the other day. It was a 99.99% match, which I'm pretty sure is as close to 100% as these tests get. The reason they perform a DNA test is to make sure the woman placing the child for adoption is actually the biological mother of the child.

It was mixed news. Happy news for us as it means we're that much closer to bringing Kit home, but we also reminded ourselves of how hard each of the steps of terminating her parental rights must be for Kit's first mom.

September 18, 2006


One of the reasons I'm writing this blog is to share our adoption process with people who might be considering adoption themselves (or actively working on adoption). I love to read other adoption blogs to find out what the process was like for other people. I always get jealous if their adoption went really fast! So anyway, this post is about the obligatory homestudy.

Once we decided to adopt, I did tons of research. As a librarian, that is usually my first step. I read books, searched online, and talked to people. I discovered that the first step is to do a homestudy. This is a series of interviews with a social worker where they try to determine if you are fit to parent a child. We chose an agency that was semi-local. We live in a rural area, and the closest agency we could find was an hour and a half away! Now I know that we could have worked with an agency farther away and found a social worker near us to do the actual homestudy.

Anyway, we were very happy with our agency. Our social worker was a really nice woman but it's hard to get too comfortable with anyone when you feel that she holds your fate in her hands. I remember wondering if I was making too much eye contact, or nodding too much when she talked. I really wanted to make a good impression and prove myself fit to be a mother.

We met with the SW 6 times in all. First we had an informational meeting where we found out about the agency. That was in November of 2005. It took us a few weeks to decide that we wanted to go ahead with the adoption and work with that agency. The next meeting was in January of 2006. We talked about our reasons for adopting and discussed the different countries we could work with. At the next meeting we talked about our style of discipline. After that we each met with the SW separately to talk about our relationship and childhood. The final meeting was in our house. That one was the most nervewracking. Our house has never been so clean. After it was over though, I realized I had been so obsessed with cleaning the house that I hadn't cleaned the kitty litter in at least 3 days. With two cats, that made for a smelly box! Luckily, the SW did not look at our basement where the kitty box is kept. I don't think that one thing would have prevented us from being approved as adoptive parents, but you never know...

In all our homestudy took about 4 months and it took the SW another month to write up the report. We finally got our final homestudy report in June 2006. It took an unusually long time. I've seen other people who had theirs done in 6 weeks. Our agency was small, and they had a lot of people wanting to adopt at the same time. Jack was very forgiving and understanding, but I found it harder to be patient.

Some people who adopt feel that the homestudy is really invasive and they feel that it's unfair that they have to go through it when other people can just have a kid. I didn't really feel this way. In fact, I liked the fact that I was approved by a social worker. I really think it would be good if everyone had to talk about discipline and other issues before they had kids. I feel like Jack and I are slightly more prepared to deal with kids than some people are.

Mommy Daddy Blog

Jill and I love reading adoption/parenting blogs. They're fun to read and every now and then they make us think about an aspect of adoption in a new way. We're constantly looking for new ones to bookmark.

Most blog's we've come across are written by one parent (usually a mom). I think it can be really useful for one parent to have their own forum to discuss adoption and parenting, and honestly most of my favorite blogs are mom blogs. Part of the reason Jill and I decided to start this blog though, was we thought the niche for cooperative, two-parent blogs could use some more filling. We're both going to try to make regular posts on this blog. Sometimes we'll each give our perspective on the same events and issues; other times we might be writing about entirely different things. Our hope is that the two points of view will make it interesting.

September 17, 2006

Coming to Adoption

How we came to the decision to adopt was a mix of long-time planning, common sense and luck.

Jill first brought up the possibility of adoption years ago, before we were even married. Since we met in high school, but didn't get married until after we were both out of college, we had a long courtship and plenty of time to talk about what we both wanted for our future. At that time, I was thinking we'd have one or two babies biologically and then adopt. Adoption wasn't a noticable part of my growing up as it was with Jill (although I later realized it actually was, just not in the traditional sense - my best friend and one of my cousins were both adopted by their step-fathers). Biological babies were the "norm" in my childhood, so I assumed we'd go that route first. Over the years as we talked about adoption more, I started to realize a biological link wasn't important to me and I'd be excited about either path we might follow toward our future family.

It wasn't until this last year that kids became a possibility, though. We'd spent the first couple years after college in low wage jobs and then for a couple more years Jill was in grad school to get her Masters in Information Science so she could become a school librarian. We never had the money or the time to bring a child into the picture. When Jill graduated and actually became a librarian suddenly we could start seriously thinking about having kids.

By now we were anxious to start our family. We talked about biological kids and trying to time the pregnancy so it'd happen in the summer and Jill would be out of school (of course we realized the chances of this actually happening were minute). We also started talking about adoption again. In the end, it wasn't a sense of duty or charity that interested us in adoption. We wanted to raise kids, a genetic link wasn't important to us, and there are kids in the world who don't have homes - adoption was just common sense. Unfortunately, the fees involved ruled it out for us at the time. Then a couple months later we lucked into a one-time windfall of money that suddenly made adoption possible. It seemed like fate.

Deciding to Adopt

Our story is not one of infertility. In fact, Jack and I have never tried to conceive a child. Before we were even married we talked about adoption. I have several cousins who were adopted, and it always seemed normal to me. I have been interested in pursuing adoption to build my family since I was a child.

In the fall of 2005 Jack and I decided we were ready to start a family. We briefly discussed trying for a biological child, but quickly decided that we wanted to do an adoption at least for our first child. Our feeling was there are so many children out there who need homes, and we can provide one. Why bring a new child into this already overpopulated world?

Our next step was to figure out which type of adoption to pursue. Domestic, international, or foster care? Although I was tempted by foster care, because I know those children have the hardest time finding homes, I was a bit intimidated. I wanted to parent an infant and being a first time mom, I wasn't sure I could do a great job with a child who had experienced trauma, as most children in foster care have. As for domestic, I was afraid that with the birth mother choosing the parents, and Jack and I not having experienced fertility, no one would want to choose us and we would have to wait a long time. So it was international. Now we needed to find a country. Several countries had restrictions that ruled us out. We weren't old enough for China, not infertile enough for Columbia, and not religious enough for the Philippines. We ruled out Russia and Kazakhstan because of our fear of poorly staffed orphanages and two trips to travel. After we had narrowed it down to Korea or Guatemala, we had a very hard time picking. We finally decided on Guatemala because it is closer to the US and cheaper to travel there. We really want to take our child back to Guatemala to visit, perhaps multiple times.

Next post I will talk about our homestudy and the paperchase.