The questions started not long after our September 2000 marriage. “When are you planning on having kids”? The standard response was “soon”. As the years went by, we found there were things we just had to get done before having a baby – a new home, jobs, etc. And time got away from us. We tried for a few years to have a biological child and found that was likely not going to happen. While IVF was an option to explore, neither of us felt that was right for us. The next conversation was shorter and much easier than expected. Are you open to adoption? The immediate answer on both sides was “Yes.”
We went through the pre-approval process: the MAPP classes, the home inspection, the interviews. And then the waiting. We found that we were matched to multiple children along the way, but nothing really felt right. It’s a strange feeling to be matched to a child and to say “no, it’s just not the right fit.” There is a feeling of unease and guilt that come along with it, but when you know, you know. Finally we were matched to a little boy and it just felt right. We went through multiple interviews and found that the final decision was between us and another family. On a Tuesday afternoon, we got the call – they had chosen the other family. It made complete sense; that family was right for that little boy. However, I would be lying through my teeth if I said it didn’t hurt or shake my faith in our future. We took a few days and really thought if we could go through the emotional ups and downs of this process. Ultimately, we knew it was worth the risk and the potential heartache. Our child was out there, waiting for us to find him. Two days later, we received the call from our social worker that changed our lives: ”we have a child that might be a match.”
We received a little background information on the child in that first phone call. He was very young, just a baby. He was considered legal risk as his biological parent’s rights had not been severed. We hadn’t wanted to go the legal risk route, but something about this child just felt like the right fit. Then, the bomb was dropped: the biological mother has serious mental health issues. We were asked to take some time to think about what we would be taking on should the child grow up to develop his mother’s illness. We spent days reading, studying. Talking to family, to friends – looking for guidance in this monumental decision. In the long run, we knew that this child was meant for us. We didn’t need to see his picture or know his name to know that he was our son. While there was a chance he will develop his mother’s illness later in life, there is also a good chance that he won’t. If he does, we are here to love, support, and advocate for him.
Our son knows he is adopted. He has known this from the very beginning. He doesn’t understand the reasons behind why his mother had to give him up; he just accepts that it is something that had to happen to bring him to us. We meet with his biological family twice per year. The relationship with them was awkward in the beginning. We were worried that they would resent us for raising their son. As it turns out, nothing could be farther from the truth. They were happy that he had found a home where he was loved and wanted. He does not know that these meetings are with his biological mother. He only knows that they are family, but I expect he will start to ask questions sooner rather than later and we will answer them honestly. Our visits are a happy experience; they get to see him grow up and turn into a great kid. He gets the best of both worlds. He gets to know his biological family and he gets to spend his life with the family that, as he puts it, “searched the world for him.”
Kristin, Shawn, and their son, Calvin