Think Outside the Box; No Thank You.. We Are Thinking “In The Box”

On Friday September 25th, we officially were declared approved for open adoption and our profile is now “in the box” to be presented to potential birth parents.  It was a fast journey, from the time of our first information session to approval, it took us 6 months in total.  We had some slight delays at the end, due to R’s Dad needing to get fingerprinted for his criminal record check.  This happens from time to time, so we anticipated the delay.

I know six months sounds like a long time to some, however, there are many steps and activities that must be completed in order to be approved for adoption.  So we did work very hard to move so quickly.

The magical box containing our profile.
The magical box containing our profile.

I decided to write a brief summary of our journey this year, to recap our experience.

To say that 2015 has been a whirlwind year for us would be an understatement.  We finally made the leap to begin our adoption journey with AO, and take the steps necessary to move from being a family of two, to a family of three.  Our journey began in March by attending an information session, after 11 years of finding one reason or another to postpone our start.  We had fallen into the trap of believing we needed to first “have the bigger house”, “grow our careers” etc. It was a series of one thing after the next.  Finally, we realized that none of that mattered.  What mattered most was that we could provide a stable, loving home for our future child.

Walking into the information session in March, we weren’t sure what to expect. I had attempted to research open adoption in Canada, but the information on line was limited and so much of it was U.S based.  I wasn’t looking for information on the steps, I wanted information about what to expect… what questions would be asked, how I was going to feel and learn about the process for others.  None of that was available. In light of that I decided that I would start of blog.  For two reasons really; one was to document our journey and use it as a journal of sorts, and the second was to create a means of connecting with others who are on the same path.  It has been a process that I found very useful, and I recommend journaling or blogging to keep your head on straight and explore your journey.

The information session was helpful; it confirmed that this was the right choice for us.  That night we scheduled our application meeting for the following week.   Now things were getting very real.

I remember the morning of our application meeting, I stood in my closet trying to figure out what outfit looked “parental”. Sounds strange I know, but for me it was definitely how I was feeling, like I was going to be scrutinized at every step.  This couldn’t have been further from the truth.  Within minutes into our application meeting, we felt supported, at ease and had a lot of laughs and a few tears. We came prepared with a list of questions, and learned about how the double match system worked.  One thing we learned was that despite the fact that we were together for over 11 years, if a birthparent said “married couple”, we may not be presented.  So we decided to get married in between the time of our application meeting in the beginning of April and our two day education session at the end of May.  Let’s just add the stress of a wedding into the mix, right?

Our May education session came quickly.  I remember entering the room and recognizing several faces from our information session.  We were nervous, not sure what was going to transpire, but excited as we checked off another step in the journey.  Introductions began to happen and I remember thinking, “Wow, all of these people would be great parents”.  Until then I had been living in a bubble.  I had been in the safe space where all of our friends and family constantly told us what great parents we would be, and assuring us that we “would be matched right away”.  After day one, I left feeling pretty defeated.  My bubble had been burst somewhat.  I suddenly realized that we were going to be in a box with over 80 other couples that were equally great, and equally ready to be parents.  Truthfully, it also may not have helped that every speaker and facilitator that weekend had all experienced reversals.  I mean what are the odds?!  I was emotionally drained.

By day two I had pulled myself together, with a lot of support from my husband and was ready to get my head back in it.  We left that Sunday with homework that needed to be completed in order to move forward with our next steps.  Not being ones to waste time, we got started on our homework and contacted AO on Monday to move forward.  We had a meeting in early June to review our dear birthparent letters, photos and our paperwork. We really struggled to compile four pages of photos that reflected our life together. We took a methodical approach of starting with folders of pictures, each of us taking turns using the power of veto to eliminate those that we felt were not flattering, before finally settling on what we felt was a perfect balance. Another step checked off.

Our home study was now scheduled to start in July. The day of our first couple meeting came quickly, and I remember entering AO that morning completely unsure of what to expect.  When you read about the process on line, you hear a wide range of questions that could be asked.  As we were brought to the room that we had grown to know so well, we swore we could hear Darth Vader’s theme music playing.  We had never met our home study social worker before, so on top of not knowing what to expect, we also didn’t know if our personalities would mesh.  Once again within no time of meeting the social worker, we relaxed.  The home study wasn’t an interrogation, instead it felt very conversational.  It was one part therapy, one part interview and another part coffee with a curious friend. We had a series of meetings at the office, one as a couple and one each one on one.  Then the big meeting, the home visit!  In the information session they tell you not to go overboard cleaning; but who are they kidding?  Initially I thought we’ll just do a light tidy as our house is relatively clean.  Next thing I knew we were washing baseboards and organizing closets.  It’s normal, and was something I had to do in order to feel ready.

The home visit was once again pretty straight forward, followed up on some questions and a quick tour of the house.  Part of me was disappointed that she didn’t open my closets as they had never been more organized. We went over a few of the other documents required, criminal record checks started and medicals complete.  I could see “the box”…we were so close.

A month later our report was complete and we went to AO to review.  As we read the report we were amazed at the detail! Then there it was at the end of the report, the words that we had been working so hard to get to “recommended for placement”.

This was it… we had achieved box worthy status!  For months we had been on an emotional and learning journey to get to the point of being placed in the mythical box.  The way this box is spoken of, I half expect it to be a bejewelled chest, wrapped in rainbows and sealed with unicorn kisses.  I certainly don’t want my visions shattered to learn that it is a run of the mill corrugated box.

We now begin the wait for the perfect match.

What have we taken away from the process?  We’ve learned that this process is not only about ensuring that we are able to provide a safe and loving home, but it is also a chance for us to learn about ourselves and to become strengthened as a couple.  We have learned to trust in the process, and to simply be true to ourselves and the steps. Truth be told, we enjoyed it and took so much away with us.

So as we wait, we continue to move on with our lives.  Keep our heads in the game, and feet on the ground.  We could literally get the call at any moment now, but we also have to be realistic that we could also be waiting for several years.  Either way, we are ready and have done everything we can to add to our family.

On the Edge of the Box

For the last 6 months I have been so focused on working through the check list of items that we needed to complete in order to reach the point of approval.  At Adoption Options they refer to it as “in the box”. This essentially means you are a waiting family, and your profile is literally in a box waiting for a double match and to be selected by birth parents.

We are in a limbo period right now. We have completed our home study, medical reports, criminal record checks, education session, and our letters, references and photo packets are now all complete. Currently our social worker is writing her report about our home study, and making recommendations and observations. Once that is submitted, barring any issues we will officially be approved and considered a waiting family. It has been pretty quick actually, if you think that we first started this process in February with our first info session.

We are on the edge of the box right now… just a couple more weeks hopefully.  Then the true wait begins.

I picture the actual box at Adoption Options being prettier.
I picture the actual box at Adoption Options being prettier.

It is a strange feeling right now though, no further tasks to complete or next steps to focus on. It is like we are now just releasing that balloon into the universe, hoping it lands at the door step of our birth parents.

I find myself kind of feeling like “Now what?”. There is nothing I can do to move the process along, not a lot I can do to find our match and no more steps for us to complete. The other night I literally googled, “What to do while waiting for your adoption match”. I quickly realized I was not the only one that was feeling the same way.

The themes and advice on all of the posts are very similar:

  • Believe in the process, because it does work! No one can say what the journey will look like, but they do all say that you will become a parent.
  • Do not put your life on hold! Book that trip, take that vacation. (Let your agency know, so that they can reach you!)
  • Take workshops, read books on adoption, go out to dinner and talk to with other adoptive parents.
  • Contact your adoption agency, meet with your case worker, and/or attend waiting support groups. 
  • Nurture yourself and slow down a little. Take a walk, meditate just five minutes a day, enroll in that yoga class. You will never regret that weekend away with your family and friends. Do your best to relax and continue to live a full, rich life and believe that the birth parents and baby will find you when it is meant to happen.

Good advice, but the trick will be putting it into practice!

R and I are registered to start attending a waiting families adoption group in September. This is a new group started at Adoption Options. We’ll see how that goes.

This summer we have been spending a lot of time at the lake, relaxing with friends.. and R even took the entire month of August off work. I think he has the nurture yourself and slow down concept mastered.

Here are some of my plans while we wait..

  • Lose weight.  Become more active and run more. I’ve been thinking about a winter activity, so I may buy some cross-country skis.
  • Upgrade my CPR (and get R certified) to include infant and children.
  • Blog more often.
  • Try new things.  This summer I attended two Paint Nites, and also tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time.
2nd Paint Nite of the Summer
2nd Paint Nite of the Summer
Had a great time paddle boarding!
Had a great time paddle boarding!

In the mean time, we will just trust in the process and focus on relaxing and getting in some final “me” time, before our baby arrives.