We attended an information session, and by the end of it, were committed to starting the adoption process locally. Why not us? We were two men who had been together for 11+ years at that point in a stable, loving relationship. Most of our free time was spent with our respective families and close friends. We knew that we wanted children and had considered private adoption and surrogacy to start our family. Then, we realized how many kids in the foster care system in Massachusetts there were who needed opportunity, love, and their own forever home.
The first adoption party was at Jordan’s Furniture and was overwhelming. We were dumb-founded and slow to grasp what we had to do. We started gently … talked mostly to the people we knew, approached a few social workers, and spoke with several children. It was so sad to see the older children feeling deflated by the experience and without hope for their adoption.
In reflecting on the party, we quickly understood that we had to be our own advocates and become active in finding our kids. The adoption staff have daunting challenges – with kids, emergencies, placements, etc., and they have limited time and resources. You need to meet as many people as you can and have your own family flyer describing who you are and how you want to build your family. You need to talk to every kid and social worker and placement professional at the parties. You need to sell yourself!
At a second adoption party, I met all of the staff that I could, and then …
two kids walked in with their foster moms: the protective, 4-year old, older brother was holding his 3-year old brother’s hand, keeping him safe, and guiding him towards the horses. The younger boy had an independent swagger and was wearing adult red sunglasses that were bigger than his head. I immediately knew that these were our kids. We had planned on a baby – everyone does – but these two toddlers who were siblings immediately made the most sense to complete our family. They weren’t who we had envisioned joining us, but they were exactly who we needed, and we believe that they needed us.
This time, our approach and action plan was different. I found their placement counselor and gave him our information and talked to him about getting and reviewing our home study. I got the name of the boys’ social worker and her contact information. I talked with the foster moms who were very friendly and positive. I didn’t understand how difficult this day was for them as I plowed ahead with my questions about the children. I got in the car and sent the boys’ picture and profile to my partner and told him that I had found our boys. We got on the MARE website that day and asked that our home study be forwarded to the DCF team. We quickly contacted our social worker, their social worker, the DCF placement worker, and our advocates at MARE.
Within a few weeks, we had a meeting set up and we heard how difficult the boys’ start in life was in much detail. We then met our sons that day at a park along with their foster parents. We didn’t know how rare this opportunity to meet was. We had a long, friendly visit and learned all about the boys and their history in foster care. Upon leaving, we knew that they would become our family. We also understood the pain and anguish that their placement would cause their foster family of 18 months. The foster moms loved the boys and had been tremendous advocates for them and their successful placement. It was an easy decision for us to build a relationship with the foster parents, so they will always be involved with our sons and be able to watch them grow.
We have been together for 9 months as a family and are awaiting the call from the court for the date to finalize the adoptions. It has been the most amazing, challenging, beautiful experience of our lives. There was a short honeymoon period when the brothers seemed like angels from heaven. Then, we experienced every challenge that we heard about in MAPP and could have imagined – as we all learned to love, like, live with, and trust one another. Every limit that could be tested was tested – hundreds of times! There were a few occasions that were so difficult that we thought that we just weren’t equipped to proceed with the adoptions. Then, these issues would vanish instantly when we saw the kids do something together that was so goofy or loving or sweet that your heart just melted.
We love our sons. Our families love them. We cannot imagine our lives without them. and it seems like they have always been with us. They are just…. awesome!
Family of 4, South End, Boston